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Ambassador Kirk Responds to Questions from Reporters after arriving for first visit to the World Trade Organization Geneva, Switzerland

May 11, 2009

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - Ambassador Kirk Responds to Questions from Reporters after arriving for first visit to the World Trade Organization.

Ambassador Kirk: I’m really glad to be here.

Question: Who are you going to be meeting with here?

Ambassador Kirk: Fortunately I’m going to get to meet quite a few of my colleagues here. I’ll be meeting with a group from Latin America and the Caribbean countries at this meeting, then having lunch with a number of the other Ambassadors, then meeting with some of the negotiating chairs, and then lots of multilateral meetings. So it’s a great opportunity to meet a number of my colleagues that I’ll look forward to working with over the next several years.

Question: Are you going to make any suggestions?

Ambassador Kirk: We are going to listen. I’m going to follow the lead of the President. I think President Obama has set a wonderful example, and I think the world has been remarkably impressed at his willingness to engage our partners around the world in a thoughtful way, but to do that first by listening, realizing that the world has given us an opportunity to reset our relationships with a lot of our partners. So this is as much an opportunity for me to hear their perspectives as much as to share my own.

Question: Ambassador Kirk, you are meeting Commissioner Ashton tomorrow. You were successful last week in resolving a long standing dispute on the beef hormones. Do you anticipate any discussions on other outstanding disputes, for example the Airbus-Boeing one, maybe going back to the negotiating table and trying to get that resolved?

Ambassador Kirk: What I would say broadly is I think it was a great fortuitous moment that literally within six hours of my having been confirmed I had a chance to meet Ambassador Ashton over dinner. And what we agreed to broadly was that given the historic strength of the relationship between the United States and the EU, in both of our minds somewhat of a tragedy that we spent so much of our time on dispute matters, at the WTO and otherwise, and that if we could attempt to resolve any of those by direct negotiations, very difficult negotiations, that anything we could come to agreement on would enable us to focus more on the positive. So what I will say is that assuming that we get the beef issue finally put to bed, which we are 99 percent there, then we will look and see about other issues we might be able to address as well. We are going to do a formal press conference on Wednesday, so I will see you all then. Look forward to working with, and meeting all of you.