The Cable

Who is Clinton meeting with in Munich?

MUNICH – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at the 2012 Munich Security Conference today but she’s only speaking for 10 minutes. So how is she going to fill the rest of her time in Germany? She’ll hold high level bilateral meetings in the hotel with various world leaders. First, Clinton will deliver remarks on ...

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Getty Images

MUNICH – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is at the 2012 Munich Security Conference today but she’s only speaking for 10 minutes. So how is she going to fill the rest of her time in Germany? She’ll hold high level bilateral meetings in the hotel with various world leaders.

First, Clinton will deliver remarks on the morning panel with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

"I think the Secretary of Defense will talk about the defense review that the Pentagon recently undertook and what it means for Europe and how we are going about reaffirming our commitment to European security and Article 5 and global partnership," said a senior State Department official. "And the Secretary of State will talk about what a key partner Europe is in the global security, economic, democracy promotion agenda that we have."

Her first bilateral meeting will be with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, to talk about security, energy, and economics. The senior State Department official said the fact that Yanukovych has thrown former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in prison would probably come up.

"She will reiterate our position that we’d like to see a much stronger U.S. relationship with Ukraine, but we also have some expectations of Ukraine," said the official. "And she’ll no doubt raise the issue of democracy in Ukraine and the specific case of former Prime Minister Tymoshenko’s imprisonment."

Tymoshenko’s daughter was in Washington this week and met with several U.S. lawmakers and senior administration officials, including Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns.

"We’ve expressed our very serious concerns, called for her release from prison, and the Secretary has been engaged on this issue and feels strongly. We are concerned about what really looks like selective prosecution," the official said.

Then Clinton will see Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who is speaking on the panel immediately after hers, along with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. "You can be sure that Syria and the discussions at the UN will be one of the issues there," the State Department official said.

It’s unclear what exactly they have to talk about since Russia has rejected the latest draft resolution meant to hold the Syrian regime to account for rising violence against civilians there.

Next up on Clinton’s schedule are meetings with Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, who she is meeting for the first time.

Clinton’s other big contentious meeting of the day comes after that, when she sits down with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. The Egyptian government is in danger of losing its $1.3 billion in annual U.S. military aid because they are harassing American NGO groups in Cairo and refusing to let American NGO workers leave, including Sam Lahood, the son of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood.

Clinton’s last meeting of the day is a quick pull aside with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti.

The topics on the minds of conference goers are reports that the U.S. is transitioning away from a combat role in Afghanistan in 2013, sooner than expected, and that the U.S. is worried about an impending Israeli military strike on Iran.

Both of these stories were partially created by seemingly unplanned comments from Panetta over the past two days, but the State Department official said Clinton will probably have to address them as well.

"When I said she’ll address our global cooperation with the Europeans, Afghanistan and Iran are obviously two of the things that we are closely engaged on," the official said.

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