Madam Secretary

British and German press react to Clinton’s meetings with foreign ministers

By and large, both the British and German papers today are delighted that Secretary Clinton’s meetings with British Foreign Minister David Miliband and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier seem to herald a new day for transatlantic relations. WIth Miliband, the agenda was largely the “special relationship” between the US and UK, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and ...

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By and large, both the British and German papers today are delighted that Secretary Clinton’s meetings with British Foreign Minister David Miliband and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier seem to herald a new day for transatlantic relations.

WIth Miliband, the agenda was largely the “special relationship” between the US and UK, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and peace in the Middle East.

The Guardian loves the fact that Britain scored a diplomatic coup:

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, lavishly praised the “special relationship” between the US and Britain after discussions in Washington yesterday with David Miliband, the first foreign minister to meet her in the new job….

British diplomats had played down the importance of whether Britain, France or Germany would be first to speak to the new administration but they were yesterday celebrating twin coups: Gordon Brown was the first European leader Obama called and Miliband became the first foreign minister to visit Clinton.

The Independent detected “bittersweet moments”:

The two top diplomats gushed over each other, with Mr Miliband declaring he was “delighted” to be meet with Mrs Clinton exactly three months after Mr Obama was elected, two weeks after his inauguration and one full day after Mrs Clinton was formally sworn in. Whew. Their talks were “detailed, substantive and friendly”, Mr Miliband recounted.

But was there a hint of regret that Hillary wasn’t in the White House? As far as the Foreign Office is concerned, Barack Obama, is an inspiring but essentially blank sheet of paper.

And the Times seemed relieved that Clinton reassured Miliband that the U.S. wouldn’t act rashly toward Iran:

Hillary Clinton offered David Miliband assurances yesterday that plans to re-engage with Iran would proceed one step at a time – and only after heeding concerns from Britain. 

With Steinmeier, the agenda focused on Afghanistan, Iran, and Germany-U.S. ties.

Deutsche Welle seems giddy about the fact that Steinmeier is on a first-name basis with the Secretary:

They already call each other by their first names.

 

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, looking forward to a warmer era of diplomatic relations with the United States under President Barack Obama, called the new top US diplomat “Madame Secretary Hillary” or simply, “Hillary,” a sign of friendship for Germans, who often call each other by their last names even after decades.

 

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reciprocated by calling her German colleague “Frank.” Indeed, the pair have known each other since the 1990s, when she was US first lady and Steinmeier was chief of staff to the previous German chancellor.

Der Spiegel, on the other hand, reported that Steinmeier’s enthusiasm for the new administration (in juxtaposition to Angela Merkel, who has been noticeably more reserved when it comes to Obama) is a product of his desire to be Germany’s next chancellor, and that yesterday showcased a bit of campaigning on this side of the pond:

The foreign minister, who is also the chancellor candidate for the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in this year’s German national election, waited no longer than the inauguration before making plans for his first visit with the new administration. Steinmeier, after all, is trying to mount a campaign in Germany that he hopes will help him cash in on Barack Obama’s win and America’s shift to the left. He wants to position himself with German voters as the country’s chief Atlanticist and a passionate friend of the new American government….

 

During their joint press conference at the State Department, Steinmeier addressed his counterpart as “Dear Hillary” and spoke for a very long time — a lot longer than she did. Steinmeier praised what he described as his “visit with friends” and said trans-Atlantic cooperation must not be suffocated by “routine.” Later he raved about a “new freshness, a curiosity, a preparedness to discuss new issues.” Clinton played along. 

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

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