European Union draws up letter to new U.S. leader

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - The European Union has prepared a letter for the next U.S. president, seeking more involvement for the 27-nation EU in resolving world problems, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Monday.

The six-page document will be dispatched after the winner of Tuesday’s election emerges and Kouchner said the EU hoped for close ties with the new administration.

“There is a need to open a new chapter in global harmony, global balance, global change,” Kouchner said following talks with his EU counterparts in the French port city of Marseille.

France’s foreign minister said the letter focused on the need for multilateral solutions to world problems, including seeking peace in the Middle East and developing relations with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Times have changed. I think unilateral decisions that try to resolve the problems of the world will be more difficult to take,” Kouchner said.

“I know that the two candidates have turned their gaze on Europe and have shown their interest in seeing our two sides of the Atlantic working together,” he said, referring to Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.


Transatlantic relations suffered a severe crisis in 2003 over U.S. President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, backed by Britain, Spain, Italy and central European countries but strongly opposed by old powers, led by France and Germany.

Kouchner said the rapidly evolving nature of globalization coupled with the financial crisis showed no one nation could impose its will on the world.

“The United States will remain a very important country. I don’t say a dominant power, but a great power,” he said.

European leaders are looking to assert themselves following the leading role played by the continent this year, including decisive action to ease the financial turmoil and directing negotiations to end the fighting between Russia and Georgia.

“We have said it is important to work where we have shown leadership and offer this leadership also to the United States,” said the EU’s external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

“We have to be an outward looking partnership. Not only with the United States, but also looking to China, to India, to Brazil, to the important big players,” she added.

Public opinion polls show a clear preference among Europeans for Obama, seen not only as a clean break from Bush but also as more attuned to European concerns on human rights and dialogue with Iran.

McCain’s tough rhetoric toward Iran and Russia and his military demeanor frighten some Europeans, while his choice of Sarah Palin, who has virtually no international experience, as his running mate has also raised eyebrows.

The EU ministers gathered in Marseille refused to be drawn on who they would prefer to deal with next in Washington.

“It is for the American people to elect their president. We will then work with whoever is there,” said Ferrero-Waldner.

Editing by Janet Lawrence