John Kerry and German Foreign Minister make free trade a priority

Posted Feb 26, 2013 by Karl Gotthardt
After his visit to the UK yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry made a stop in Berlin.He met briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, making transatlantic free trade a top priority.
John Kerry - US Secretary of State
John Kerry - US Secretary of State
John Kerry, who will be attending a "Friends of Syria" meeting later this week, made his second stop in Berlin, Germany to meet briefly with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. The two cabinet ministers said that free trade between the United States and Europe were a top priority.
John Kerry and Guido Westerwelle discussed a myriad of issues of joint concern to both Germany and the United States. Kerry made clear that both countries valued a strong fair and free trade agreement that would create jobs for both Americans, Germans and Europeans.
President Obama has announced his vision, which I think is an important one and shared by the Chancellor and others here, for a new economic partnership with Europe. Germany is our largest trade partner in Europe, and we want to see even more trade and investment that will create jobs – jobs for Germans, jobs for Americans, jobs for all Europeans – and help to lift the European economy at a time that it obviously needs it. That’s why it is a priority for President Obama and one that I will work on diligently to try to advance a comprehensive, transatlantic trade and investment partnership.
The two foreign ministers said they would try to expedite the talks between the European Union (EU) and the United States and thought that the negotiations could start as early as this summer.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said that Kerry's visit shortly after taking office were a clear indication that the United States valued the transatlantic partnership. He said that the United States of America are the most important partner for Germany outside of Europe.
This afternoon Kerry will be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. The main point of the discussion will be the civil war in Syria. The relationship between Russia and the US has been strained to say the least and as such Kerry was not prepared to give a detailed US position. Westerwelle on the other hand said it was important to apply sanctions that would support the opposition coalition to avoid the region from going up in flames. More than 70,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the uprising 18 months ago.
The two discussed their ongoing efforts to build a peaceful and stable Afghanistan and their ongoing concerns on security, counter-terrorism, and financial regulations. While in Germany Kerry called on Iran to move down the path of a diplomatic resolution.
Berlin was Kerry's second stop on a nine country trip through Europe and the Middle East. He heads to France next.