May 26, 2012 / 3:27 AM / 5 years ago

Clinton to visit Scandinavia, Caucasus, Turkey

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (C), U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Martin Dempsey, testify at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington May 23, 2012.Gary Cameron

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaves next week on an eight-day trip to Scandinavia, the Caucasus and Turkey that will cover security issues such as Iran and Syria as well as the environment and health.

The State Department said Clinton begins her May 31-June 7 trip with visits to Denmark, Norway and Sweden that will largely concentrate on the environment.

Her visit to Norway will include speaking at a conference on global health in Oslo on June 1 as well as visiting Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle, for June 2 talks on climate change and developing the region's untapped resources.

Clinton then travels to Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan, where the State Department said she would discuss "regional security, democracy, economic development and counterterrorism."

One topic sure to come up in Armenia and Azerbaijan is their conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

A tiny mountain region mainly populated by Christian Armenians, Nagorno-Karabakh seceded from Muslim Azerbaijan and proclaimed independence after an early 1990s war that killed some 30,000. Its independence is not recognized by any nation.

Clinton ends her trip in Istanbul on June 7, speaking at a counterterrorism forum and holding talks with Turkish officials on Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is seeking to crush an uprising against his rule, and Iran, whose nuclear program the United States suspects is designed to develop atomic weapons.

Iran, which says its program is for civilian purposes, held a second round of talks with major powers in Baghdad this week and the two sides are due to meet again in Moscow on June 18-19.

Reporting By Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Eric Beech

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