Analysis: Biden promises foreign policy shifts

International Herald Tribune 02/08/2009 21:38
Analysis: Biden promises foreign policy shifts - politics - USA - foreign policy - Joe Biden

WASHINGTON: The Obama administration promises sweeping changes in American foreign policy, and some U.S. adversaries are nibbling the bait. Vice President Joe Biden hit most of the right notes in his Munich speech this weekend, declaring — among a long list of initiatives — Washington's readiness to push the "reset button" with Russia, talk with rather than browbeat Iran and revitalize the bruised NATO alliance.

U.S. troops are leaving Iraq. A more nuanced Afghan policy is in the works. Barack Obama won't rest without progress on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

And so forth, and so on, went the vice president's address Saturday at the 45th Munich Security Conference.

He painted the global landscape in new colors, drawing stark contrasts with the Bush administration, which had alienated or chilled relations with many American friends and deepened animosity among its enemies.

"The U.S. administration sent a very strong signal, and the signal was heard," Sergei Ivanov, the Russian deputy prime minister said after talking with Biden on Sunday.

In the course of the weekend gathering, Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani spoke of a "golden opportunity for the United States" — suggesting if Washington was serious about conciliation Tehran could respond in kind. He said more than once that the U.S. needed to change "to a chess game instead of a boxing match."

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