The first official visit by Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini to the United States opened with a wide-ranging discussion with the American Secretary of State John Kerry. Topics examined included the crisis in Ukraine (“we must support the national dialogue”); the stalemate in Syria; the two Italian marines detained in India; and the schoolgirls abducted in Nigeria. Another key topic for the United States is EXPO 2015, for which Kerry thanked our country for its decision to place the emphasis on food security for all and on global resources. Secretary Kelly also thanked Italy for its role in the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons, by making the port of Gioia Tauro available for operations.
First official mission to the USA for Minister Mogherini
This was Minister Mogherini’s first official mission to the USA. During her visit she will be speaking at leading American think tanks such as the Brookingsand the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), before meetings at the United Nationsin New York on Friday.
Her goal is to illustrate Italian foreign policy priorities under the Renzi Government. After two meetings at the White House withBarack Obama’s close advisers (Susan Rice and John Podesta), the Minister’s mission will be interrupted by a brief visit to London. There, she will be taking part in a ministerial meeting of the Friends of Syria, preceded by a meeting at the Foreign Office to discuss the situation in Ukraine and Libya.
From London, Minister Mogherini will head for New York for her meetings at the UN.
International agenda – the key topics
For the first time since the Geneva agreement there is a small glimmer of light on Ukraine, small steps to try, given that both Moscow and Kiev seem ready to work on a basis, admittedly minimal, of mutual recognition. Mogherini noted that the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, is supporting the mediation of the Organisation for Security and Cooperationin Europe (OSCE) for a de-escalation of the crisis, defining the presidential elections scheduled for 25 May as “a step in the right direction”. A very different attitude compared with the annexation of Crimea – a true “welcome home”.
Turning to the question of the two Italian marines held in India, Mogherini up-dated Kerry on the new steps taken by Italy by “internationalising” the case. On Libya, she noted the need to create conditions of institutional stability to stem the migration flows leaving the country. As for Iran, if a definitive agreement is reached in Vienna on the nuclear question, “we should start to consider how to test the Iranians’ intention and ability to stabilise the region”, inflamed as it is by the Syrian civil war.