European Governments Ready to Work With Obama

While many European governments have rebuffed the Bush administration on a number of issues, it seems that the Europeans may be willing to work with the incoming Obama administration on a variety of stalled issues, including taking prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center and strengthening sanctions against Iran.

While European diplomats express a willingness to work with the Obama administration, they also say they will push the administration for the establishment of missile defense bases in Europe, as well as increasing pledges of personnel and equipment for the NATO mission in Afghanistan, which has long been a source of tension among the European allies.

One of the issues that the Europeans are anxious to settle is the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. Germany and Portugal have said that they will consider taking in detainees if Mr. Obama will follow-through on his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. There has also been a call by the French Foreign Ministry for a common European Union policy on how to deal with the Guantanamo prisoners. Reportedly, diplomats have already begun working on such a plan.

Dana M. Perino, White House press secretary said, “If European countries are willing to take detainees from Guantanamo, that would be a giant step.” For years the US has been trying to get the global community to share in the awesome responsibility of the war on terror.

American allies may also be more willing to help out Obama than President Bush on Iran. One European diplomat said that if Obama is willing to keep his promise to allow his administration to engage in talks directly with Iranian officials, European cooperation would likely be forthcoming. The United States, along with Europe, Russia, and China have been trying to get Iran to abandon its nuclear program through tough economic sanctions and incentives; but so far, there has been virtually no success at all.

There is hope that those countries may toughen sanctions against Iran if Mr. Obama softens the atmosphere surrounding the US-led talks. The Bush administration has complained that the problem with the sanctions against Iran is that Germany, Russia, and China have been unwilling to impose tough punitive sanctions against Iran.

While President-elect Obama has not made any official comments about Iran, he has been very outspoken on the war in Afghanistan, saying that a larger military effort is needed to combat the Taliban. This is a key reason he decided to keep on Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has been steadfast in his attempts to get NATO more involved in the conflict.


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