We landed in Brussels yesterday morning after an overnight flight. Unfortunately, I didn't sleep at all on the flight, so I had to operate off caffeine and adrenaline for the whole day. We are lucky -- it is a gorgeous spring day in Brussels, a city better known for its overcast skies. Too bad I won't get to enjoy it -- the Brussels Forum has a packed schedule, with little time for rest.
I agreed to co-chair the U.S. delegation to this weekend gathering because it is essential to hear from our friends, allies, and even rivals if you want a constructive U.S. foreign policy. I am glad I came. There are many key international figures here, including the World Bank President Bob Zoellick, Georgian President Saakashvili, and U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Dick Holbrooke. The seminars that line up back-to- back on the schedule are incredibly informative, but I have also found the informal discussions over coffee to be just as valuable. It is important to remember we don't always have all the answers and we should strive to listen to what others have to say.
I delivered opening remarks yesterday to kick off the Forum. I emphasized the three central challenges confronting the international community today: the worldwide global recession, the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan and western Pakistan, and the growing threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon. I emphasized that, in meeting these challenges, we must forge unity if we are to succeed.
Time to head off to my next seminar -- a discussion with Russia's Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and the European Union's foreign policy envoy, Javier Solana. I will check back in later.
To learn more about Brussels Forum 2009, click here.