In her capacity as Chair of the Subcommittee on European Affairs, Shaheen joined a bipartisan congressional delegation at the Brussels Forum for discussions on national security, Afghanistan/Pakistan strategy and climate change policy

March 23, 2009

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen this weekend joined a bipartisan congressional delegation at the Brussels Forum, an annual three-day conference in Brussels, Belgium that convenes international leaders to discuss the most critical national security issues affecting U.S. and European interests. Shaheen was invited in her capacity as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs to attend the forum, where she held public and private meetings with foreign heads of state and high-level government officials and policy-shapers from across Europe, Asia, Russia and the Middle East to discuss the international economic and financial crisis, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) efforts in Afghanistan, NATO-Russian relations, and climate change.


“The challenges our nation faces in confronting the global financial crisis, climate change, and global security will require international cooperation and coordination,” said Shaheen. “I was pleased to attend the Brussels Forum with a bipartisan group of colleagues to meet with international leaders and discuss how we can work together to confront these challenges.”


The Brussels Forum is a three-day conference that convenes the most influential North American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders to address pressing challenges currently facing the U.S. and Europe. A U.S. congressional delegation attends the Forum each year. Shaheen attended at the invitation of the leaders of this year’s delegation, Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Bob Bennett (R-UT). Other delegation members included Senators John McCain (R-AZ), George Voinovich (R-OH), Mel Martinez (R-FL), and other members of the Senate and House of Representatives.


On Saturday Shaheen attended a discussion on strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan with President Obama’s Envoy to the region Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, Afghanistan National Security Adviser Zalmai Rasoul and other foreign policy experts. At the discussion, Shaheen asked what efforts would be necessary to confront corruption and fight the burgeoning drug trade in the region, issues that Holbrooke called “critical.” In the coming months, the Foreign Relations Committee will consider the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act, draft legislation cosponsored by Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Lugar (R-IN) to authorize increased non-military economic assistance to Pakistan in order to help stabilize and develop the country’s economy. Shaheen later attended a private briefing with Holbrooke.


Shaheen also led a discussion on climate change policy with the Chair of the Institute for Global Environmental Studies in Japan Dr. Hironori Hamanaka; the Head of the European Union’s Climate Strategy, International Negotiations and Monitoring Unit Artur Runge-Metzger; and Senior Director of Policy Programs at the German Marshall Fund Thomas Kleine-Brockoff. The discussion focused on cap and trade policies, recent developments in U.S. climate change policy, and the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Conference in December. Senators Casey and Voinivich also attended the discussion.


Shaheen also attended numerous public and private meetings with world leaders, including U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker; Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili; NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer; World Bank President Robert Zoellick; European Union President Jose Manuel Barroso; Latvian President Valdis Zatlers; and the Foreign Ministers from Poland, Sweden, Lithuania, Russia and others.


The Forum comes at a critical time for the international community to address global challenges, and it helped lay the foundation for several important events in Europe in the next several weeks, including the G-20 Summit in London on April 2, NATO’s 60th Anniversary Summit in France and Germany in early April, and President Obama’s first overseas trip to Europe on March 31. Shaheen is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, which has jurisdiction over NATO, the European Union, Russia, Turkey, Kosovo, NATO efforts in Afghanistan, and energy security issues.

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Alex Reese