All blogs filed under Foreign Policy

From the Brussels Forum 2010

I have just finished a trip to Belgium for the annual Brussels Forum which brings together policy makers, civil society groups and opinion leaders for discussion on transatlantic issues.  This gathering allowed me to meet with key leaders on the international stage and discuss two issues at the forefront of my foreign policy priorities, the growing threat from Iran and the ongoing crisis related to food security.

I appeared on a panel discussion entitled the "Nuclear Threat from Iran" which included Amb. Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative to the European Union and European Atomic Energy Community, Russian Federation; Dr. Wang Jisi, Dean, School of International Studies, Beijing University; Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Strategic Affairs, Israel; Ruprecht Polenz, Chairman, Foreign Affairs Committee, German Parliament.  This was a great opportunity to debate these issues and hear from different voices in the international community.  While I supported the Obama Administration's diplomatic efforts with Iran, the regime has not responded in kind.  I made the case that the Iranian government has clearly not honored its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency and that the time has come to implement a strong and effective sanctions package.  I was encouraged that there was support among the audience of European leaders for the pressure track against Iran.

Afghanistan was another pressing matter on the agenda.  I met with Peter Mackay the Canadian Minister of Defense and thanked him for Canada's troop commitment to Afghanistan and our joint efforts to confront the Taliban across the country.

While in Brussels, I also met individually with President Boris Tadic of Serbia, President Ivo Josipovic from Croatia, and Montenegrin Foreign Minister Milan Rocen.  While we have seen remarkable progress in the Balkans in recent years, challenges remain, especially in regard to the deteriorating political environment in Bosnia.  My Brussels Forum Co-Chair Senator George Voinovich of Ohio has made the point that we need to remain focused on consolidating regional peace and stability as well as the democratic process in the countries of the Balkans.  I valued my exchanges with these important leaders and look forward to monitoring developments in the region.

I had the opportunity to meet briefly with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who underlined the threat from Iran during his speech to the Forum, and with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who appeared on a panel regarding NATO's future.

First thing this morning, I appeared on a panel regarding food security.  I have been a strong proponent of global food security and appreciated the opportunity to discuss these critical issues with experts from the U.S. and Europe.  With more than 1 billion people hungry in the world, we must and can do more to develop the capabilities of small farmers around the world to grow their own food and bring it to market.  This is also a critical national security issue - instability associated with hunger is a solvable problem, and we need to do more to confront this challenge at the front end.  The Global Food Security Act, which I have cosponsored with Senator Lugar, addresses these issues and is pending in the Senate.  During the panel, I shared thoughts on our legislation and developed a deeper understanding of the growing food security challenges we face.

I have departed Brussels for Vienna where I will meet with officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss its efforts to curb the Iranian nuclear program and combat nuclear proliferation around the world.  While there, I will also visit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.  These meetings come at a key time when we face an array of nuclear nonproliferation issues in the Senate as well as a new nuclear arms agreement with Russia.

Rooney Confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland!

I have great news to share.  Only a day after his nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dan Rooney was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland late Thursday evening by a unanimous vote of the United States Senate.  While it typically takes several weeks following their confirmation hearing before an uncontroversial nominee is confirmed by the full Senate, I recognized that it made no sense to force a civic treasure like Dan Rooney to wait on an arbitrary timetable.  Thus, I worked closely with Chairman John Kerry and the lead Republican, Dick Lugar, on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to "hotline" his nomination in a span of 24 hours.  It took some work but was well worth it.

I couldn't be more proud of a fellow Pennsylvanian.  As Dan prepares to depart for Ireland to represent our Nation, he does so with an uncommon blend of humility and decency that has made him a beloved icon of Steeler Nation for more than 50 years.

Foreign Policy

Dan Rooney Hearing before Senate Foreign Relations Committee

On St. Patrick's Day, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Dan Rooney, the Chairman and principal owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, to be the next United States Ambassador to Ireland. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to deliver an opening statement at Dan's confirmation hearing conveying my strong endorsement of Dan as an ideal American to represent our Nation’s interests in the Emerald Isle.

Dan is a good friend, an outstanding leader, and a proud Pennsylvanian. Dan’s lifelong interest in the Irish culture and his passion for fostering a greater partnership between our two nations gives me confidence that he is the right man for the job. Although this nomination means he will be parting with the Steelers, I know that Dan is leaving our beloved team in good hands. I look forward to his confirmation and his future service to our country.

Dan Rooney and Senator Bob Casey

Foreign Policy

World Refugee Day

Tomorrow is World Refugee Day, an annual event to celebrate the contribution of refugees throughout the world and draw attention to their continuing needs.  I am proud that Pennsylvania has been a leader in welcoming refugees to the United States, with more than 100,000 refugees from over 30 nations making our state their home since the mid-1970s.  As a United States Senator, I have sought to draw greater attention to the plight of refugees and internally displaced persons in Iraq, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan.  Large refugee populations pose not only a humanitarian crisis, but can impact the political and economic stability of states critical to our national interest.

Last year, I went to the Senate floor to deliver a floor statement recognizing the importance of World Refugee Day.  This year, I was honored to attend a reception yesterday evening hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).  At the reception, I enjoyed a chance to say hello to Angelina Jolie, the UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.

Senator Casey greets Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador

Foreign Policy
Sri Lanka

Breakfast at the State Department

Like many Americans, I continue to watch the events in Iran very closely.  This morning, I attended a private breakfast for leading Members of Congress hosted by Special Envoy George Mitchell to discuss recent developments in the Middle East.  It should be no surprise that the aftermath of the disputed Iranian presidential elections will impact our overall efforts to revive the Middle East peace process. 

Earlier this week, I took to the Senate floor to discuss the situation in Iran and offer my views on how the United States should address Iran’s nuclear program in the coming months.  You can see my statement here.

Secretary of State Clinton and Senator Casey

Foreign Policy
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