U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to meet with her British
and German counterparts on Tuesday in her first meetings with senior foreign
officials in her new post. Plans are also being made for her first overseas trip
as Secretary - to Japan, South Korea and China.
Clinton's separate meetings with British Foreign Secretary
David Miliband and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Tuesday
reflect an accelerating pace for the secretary as she moves into her second full
week on the job.
Officials say the talks with
the two key U.S. allies are likely to be dominated by discussion of the conflict
in Afghanistan and how to deal with Iran's nuclear program.
Senior diplomats of the five permanent U.N. Security Council
member countries and Germany are to convene in Wiesbaden, Germany on Wednesday
to discuss strategy in the long-running talks aimed at persuading Tehran to end
its uranium-enrichment program, which is believed weapons-related.
In a departure from his predecessor, President Barack Obama has
said his administration intends to directly engage Tehran.
No decisions on how that approach might be made have been
announced, although the State Department said Monday that a U.S. women's
badminton team is taking part in a tournament in Iran this week, continuing a
series of people-to-people contacts.
Although she was sworn into office privately just
after her Senate confirmation January 21, Clinton repeated her oath at a State
Department event on Monday. The formal ceremony was attended by Congressional
leaders, four former Secretaries of State, and her husband - former President
Vice President Joe Biden, who
officiated at the event, said Clinton - a former Senator and Presidential
candidate - has given the U.S. diplomatic corps a long-overdue morale boost.
"That sense of enthusiasm as you walk in and through this
building - it is contagious," said Vice President Biden. "And that's a statement
about your ability to inspire, Madame Secretary, as well as to
For her part, Clinton
reiterated her commitment to the use of "smart power" - a blend of diplomacy,
developmental aid and military strength to advance U.S. interests. She said that
while current world problems are daunting, they are not
"We have in the leadership of
President Obama someone who wants us to reach out to the world, to do so without
illusions - understanding the difficulties we face will not be wished away, but
meeting them forthrightly and smartly, and that we want to seize the
opportunities that exist as well," said Secretary of State Hillary
State Department officials
say plans are being finalized for Clinton's first overseas trip as Secretary of
State - a visit to Japan, South Korea and China and possibly other stops in the
region - that could begin as early as the end of next week.
The trip would be aimed at reaffirming close ties with key U.S.
regional allies Japan and South Korea, and at dealing with problems in the
complex relationship with China. The issue of North Korea's nuclear program is
expected to be a key agenda item in all three stops.
North Korea suspended its nuclear activity and has partially
disabled its atomic reactor complex in Chinese-sponsored six-party negotiations
with Pyongyang. But the process has stalled over North Korea's refusal to accept
a verification plan for the declaration of its nuclear holdings it made last