AFP: A top US diplomat will travel to China and Indonesia next week to discuss Iran's feared nuclear ambitions, climate change and democratic reform in Asia, officials said Friday. WASHINGTON (AFP) — A top US diplomat will travel to China and Indonesia next week to discuss Iran's feared nuclear ambitions, climate change and democratic reform in Asia, officials said Friday.
William Burns, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, will raise these and other issues on his visit to Beijing from December 8-9 and Indonesia from December 10-11, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.
He will also initiate "strategic consultations" with senior Indonesian officials and head a US observer delegation to the Bali Democracy Forum, which Kelly called "an important Indonesian-led initiative to promote democratic reform throughout the region."
The spokesman said Burns will follow up on issues that US President Barack Obama raised with counterparts Hu Jintao of China and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, leaders he met during visits last month to Beijing and Singapore.
Indonesia is a key partner for the Obama administration's plans to reengage with the Asia-Pacific region and the Muslim world.
In Beijing, Burns will "discuss the broad range of issues following up on the president's trip to China, issues primarily I think focusing on economic issues, economics and trade," Kelly told reporters, adding that Iran and climate change would be on the agenda.
Obama will be among more than 100 world leaders who meet in Copenhagen to tackle climate change as part of a UN-sponsored summit running December 7-18. The US president, initially scheduled to make an appearance there on Wednesday will now attend on December 18, the White House said.
With Western powers and Tehran at loggerheads over the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear program, Kelly noted that "this is a major focus right now of our administration, and it's a pivotal time, of course, in our relationship with Iran."
The United States, Russia, China, Britain and France — the permanent veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council — plus Germany are leading international diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's uranium enrichment program, suspected to mask efforts to produce nuclear weapons.
However, Russia and China have been more reluctant than the other four powers to impose tougher sanctions in response to Iran's defiance.