Russia tilts to Kerry as top envoy
Chances for Sen Kerry to assume the top US diplomat post appear high. AP photo
Russia would like to see U.S. Senator John Kerry replace Hillary Clinton as U.S. secretary of state, once she steps down at the start of President Barack Obama’s second term, a news report said yesterday.
U.S. officials said Nov. 7 that Clinton intended to keep her promise to leave the White House administration after the presidential elections, despite her boss having firmly secured another four years in office, Agence France-Presse reported.
Speculation has been rife that Washington’s top foreign policy assignment may go to either the Senate Foreign Affairs committee chairman Kerry or Washington’s U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice.
An unnamed source in the Russian foreign ministry told the Kommersant business daily that Moscow would “much prefer” to see Kerry take the post.
The source said Rice was viewed as “too ambitious and aggressive” in Russian diplomatic circles. The U.N. ambassador had fought fiercely with Moscow over its refusal to back firmer action in the Syria crisis in the past year.
“It would be more difficult for Moscow to work with Washington” if Rice became secretary of state, the unnamed Russian official said.
The source added that Moscow’s only fear was that Obama may choose against naming Kerry because this could see the Democratic Party lose an important Senate seat.
Kerry’s chances appear much higher than they do for Rice, a career diplomat.
Rice’s credibility took a blow after making controversial statements regarding the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Kerry, meanwhile, ran as the Democratic candidate for presidency in 2004 but lost against George W. Bush. The Massachusetts senator is a high-profile politician with strong leadership character and could continue the effective diplomacy Clinton performed for four years.
Moscow hopes for US flexibility on missile shield
With Obama locked in for another four years at the White House, Russia expects him to show more flexibility in a dispute over U.S. missile defense plans, the country’s deputy prime minister said yesterday.
The controversy over the planned missile shield has strained the relations between the U.S. and Russia. Moscow has rejected Washington’s assurances that the shield is intended to fend off potential missile threats from Iran and voiced concern the system could threaten Russia’s nuclear deterrent.
“We hope that President Obama after his re-election will be more flexible on the issue of taking into the account the opinions of Russia and others regarding a future configuration of NATO’s missile defense,” Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told an international conference in Moscow, according to The Associated Press.
In March, Obama, unaware that he was speaking on an open microphone, told Dmitry Medvedev, the then Russian president, that he would have more flexibility on the issue after November’s election.
Rogozin appeared to try to remind Obama of his promise when he said yesterday that Moscow hopes that the U.S. president will take into account Russia’s concerns about the U.S.-led NATO missile defense for Europe.
Russia has urged the U.S. to provide guarantees that any future shield is not aimed against it and threatened to target elements of the U.S. shield with missiles if no agreement is reached.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said yesterday the U.S. promises to inform Moscow about details of the shield weren’t enough, adding that Moscow will continue pushing for firm guarantees from Washington.