WASHINGTON (Reuters)–U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Ukraine, Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia from July 1 to 5, the State Department said over the weekend.
In Kiev, Clinton will meet Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, who has reached out to Russia since taking office on Feb. 25, and then attend a meeting of the Community of Democracies in Krakow, an intergovernmental group that promotes democratic norms.
After that, Clinton will visit Armenia and Azerbaijan, seeking to promote stability in the volatile South Caucasus region.
Announcing Clinton’s trip, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Friday that the United States had “invested a great deal of energy” to try to improve relations with Armenia and Azerbaijan and said the visit showed U.S. commitment to try to resolve their conflict.
Clinton ends her trip in Georgia in a gesture of support for the country. Critics have accused President Barack Obama’s administration of improving ties with Russia at the expense of Georgia — a charge that U.S. officials deny.
“The secretary’s trip will be a tangible manifestation of our ongoing commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity,” Crowley told reporters.
Meanwhile, a senior diplomatic source said the OSCE Minsk Group mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will visit Armenia and Azerbaijan. The group’s co-chairs–Igor-Popov of Russia, Bernard Fassier of France and Robert Bradtke of the U.S.–will pay a visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan in early July, as arranged at the Armenian-Russian-Azerbaijani presidential meeting in St Petersburg. The mediators will discuss a meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers, Edward Nalbandian and Elmar Mammadyarov, to be held in Kazakhstan.