printable banner

U.S. Department of State - Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Secretary Clinton's Visit to the Pacific

FPC Briefing
Kurt Campbell
Assistant Secretary for East Asian & Pacific Affairs
Foreign Press Center
Washington, DC
January 7, 2010


Date: 01/07/2010 Location: Washington D.C. Description: Assistant Secretary for East Asian & Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell briefs about Secretary Clinton's visit to the Pacific at the Washington Foreign Press Center on January 7, 2010. © State Dept Image

Video

2:30 P.M. EST

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much and it’s great to be here at the Press Center. The initial purpose of my time up here on the podium is to advance the Secretary’s trip. Secretary Clinton will be visiting Asia next week. This will be her fourth trip to Asia in a year since she was sworn in as Secretary of State. We leave on Monday for Hawaii, for Honolulu.

When in Honolulu, she’ll do several things – obviously pay her respects at various monuments; she’ll have briefings at our Command of Pacific Forces. She will give a major policy speech on the American approach to Asian architecture at the East-West Center commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the East-West Center by President Johnson 50 years ago.

She will also have the opportunity to meet with our closest ally in Asia’s foreign minister, Foreign Minister Okada. They will have a very good working meeting in Honolulu. During that session, we will underscore our plans for the commemoration and the next steps associated with the 50-year anniversary celebrations, the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan security alliance, which will occur initially on January 19th, and we’ll come up with an agenda and a plan for the subsequent year.

After a few days in Honolulu, in Hawaii, the Secretary will make her way to New Zealand and Australia. We will be stopping on the Pacific Island of Papua, New Guinea, and it will be the Secretary’s first visit there. It’s her first visit as Secretary since Secretary Albright in 1998. I think as many of you know, one of the efforts of the Obama Administration and Secretary Clinton has been to step up our engagement in the Pacific Islands. When we say the Asia-Pacific, sometimes the Pacific does not get as much necessary attention.

We are reopening our USAID mission in the Pacific Islands, a new focus on climate change and on renewable energy strategies. And when the Secretary was in New York for the UN General Assembly, she had a chance to meet with all the leaders of the Pacific – the so-called Pacific Islands Forum. As part of this overall effort, she will be stopping in PNG there. She will have an opportunity to view some projects that are involved with sustaining one of the most diverse biological habitats on the planet. She’ll visit a mangrove area replanting, some discussions also on some social issues inside Papua New Guinea, and she’ll have a chance to meet with the leaders, the prime minister and the foreign minister, as well as the governor, governor-general.

After Papua New Guinea, she’ll go to New Zealand. I think as many of you know, over the course of the last several years, the United States and New Zealand are working more closely together in a range of areas. We closely coordinate on our strategies for aid and assistance and the promotion of democracy in the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly in the Pacific. More recently, New Zealand has been actively engaged on the ground in Afghanistan. This will be Secretary Clinton’s opportunity to really talk about how the


United States and New Zealand can work more closely together on a range of diplomatic, economic, and security-related issues. So we’re very much looking forward to that.

She will obviously meet with all the leadership there and also opposition members. From New Zealand, she’ll go to Australia. The purpose of this trip is our yearly meeting which we call AUSMIN or the AUSMIN ministerial, in which Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton meet with their counterparts in Australia and Canberra to review aspects of our very strong alliance.

I think one of the things that we’ve seen in recent years is that Australia has ascended to the very top highest level in terms of American allies and partners on a range of issues – not just traditional security issues, but as we’ve seen, one of the leading voices on ideas for Asian integration, architecture, as well as climate change has been Prime Minister Rudd. The Secretary will meet with Prime Minister Rudd while she’s there, and also the foreign minister, and also have these formal meetings as associated with AUSMIN.

There will be a variety of other events and engagements at each one of these stops. I think one of the things that we’ve seen over the course of the last year is the Secretary and the President very much committed to stepping up our game in the Asia-Pacific region. There’s recognition that in many respects, these initiatives are bipartisan. But clearly, we want to send a message that this critical period in Asia’s history is understood in Washington and that we are committed to working closely not just with our partners and our allies and our friends, but with others in the Asian-Pacific region to underscore our deep commitment to this region.

That’s the general overview. There will be some side meetings that I’ll be involved in and others, but I think for the time being, I’ll just lay that out. I’m happy to take questions about this trip or about other aspects of our Asia policy, and I’d just ask you to identify yourself so I have a sense of who you are.

MODERATOR: I would like to ask you to also wait for the microphone before – we’ll start here.

QUESTION: Ai Awaji from Jiji Press, Japan. Thank you so much for doing this.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you.

QUESTION: In that meeting between Secretary and Foreign Minister Okada, what kind of discussion would you like to have in terms of Futenma issue? And also, are they going to start the new talks about deepening the security alliance in this meeting? Or how would you like to move the process forward?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. I think I would expect this to be a very deep and extensive interaction. We will talk about the security alliance. We will talk about Okinawa and Futenma. We will underscore the consistent American message on these issues, but we all recognize that this is a broad and important alliance, so we’re also going to be talking about other security issues. We have new developments on the Korean Peninsula. I think this will be an opportunity for the Secretary to talk a little bit about our recent engagement with China. I think we can compare notes there.

We also have major issues that are in the midst of delicate diplomacy in Iran, with Burma, with Myanmar, and with other countries. And so I think you’re going to see a very broad discussion, but we will indeed focus specifically on some of those security issues that the United States and Japan are working on together.

I do believe that the coming year, we will have several efforts that we will undertake, beginning on January 19th. And I think the Secretary and Foreign Minister Okada’s visit really is the kickoff of an effort that will take place over the course of the next year to underscore the critical importance of this alliance. We think it’s important to commemorate what it has achieved. But the truth is what’s much more important is to focus on what it can do and what it needs to do in the future.

This alliance for the United States and, we would argue, for Japan, is indispensable. And we need to work closely to sustain its health and vitality moving forward.

QUESTION: Thank you. Chin from the Straits Times.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Hi.

QUESTION: I know you probably wouldn’t want to give too much of the Secretary’s speech in Honolulu away, but I was wondering if you could give us a simple preview – you know, specifically, will she endorse or reject any of the suggestions that were given by Japan or Australia in recent years? And what really is the thinking on this issue on the U.S. side? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, thank you, and I appreciate your preamble by saying how important it is for lowly underlings not to in any way step on the news of their principals.

We have been working for a considerable period of time, and involved for months in a deep process of consultations with our allies and friends in the Asian-Pacific region. And I think we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s appropriate for the United States to step up and play a more active role in some of the institutional thinking and engagement in the region.

Clearly, we are already actively engaged in a number of forums, like the ASEAN Regional Forum and APEC. So I think what the Secretary wants to do is articulate some principles for how the United States would like to see its role playing out on both these existing forum, and also potential participation in other venues in the future.

I think our goal here is to make clear that what the United States wants to do is to continue the high-level consultation. We think it’s extraordinarily important to have some consensus and some views, and not simply to announce a position without a deep process of what we call in Japanese nemawashi.

So that’s our process over the course of the next couple of months, is to really strengthen and deepen the consultations about our efforts in multilateralism. I will say that we will not choose any one forum. We believe that the next phase must involve a degree of flexibility in which the United States not only is actively involved in a variety of venues, but also maintains the ability, on short notice, to work with likeminded states on urgent challenges like the tsunami or other humanitarian problems that befall Asia.

MODERATOR: Okay. In the front, please.

QUESTION: Thank you. John Zang with CTI-TV of Taiwan.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: How are you? Nice to see you.

QUESTION: It’s nice to see you. We understand Secretary Clinton is not going to Taiwan anytime soon. But we do have a pressing Taiwan question to ask you.

Sir, how do you see the current controversy surrounding the beef import between Taiwan and the United States? Will its impact go beyond trade and economic relations between the two sides, spilling over into security, arms sales, or presidential transits? Thank you, sir.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you very much. First of all, I don’t think I need to brief this group. Of course there have been some contentious issues associated with the beef decision. And I think we’re trying to work closely with our colleagues and friends in Taiwan on a resolution that allows this issue to move forward.

We’ve tried to be very clear that our responsibilities -- as articulated in the Taiwan Relations Act and in our larger commitments to Taiwan and the maintenance of peace across the Taiwan Straits-- remain very strong and in place. And we will continue to maintain a responsible and good unofficial relationship between Washington and Taipei. Thanks.

QUESTION: Andy Quinn from Reuters. If we could go back to the Okinawa issue, please?

I was just wondering, is there any concern in the Department that the Futenma issue is overshadowing or undercutting other elements of the U.S.-Japan alliance? And is the Secretary going to go with any specific new requests or suggestions to the Japanese about how we can get beyond this?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Let me first say that this is a critical issue. It’s important for the maintenance of a strong U.S.-Japan alliance, and I think the United States has been very consistent about its approach on the Futenma and other Okinawa-related matters. It is also the case, simultaneously, that we all recognize that this is a very large relationship, and it’s a critical relationship, and it must be maintained.

And so I think the Secretary will seek to make two points: one, how important it is to move forward on these issues in Futenma and elsewhere in Okinawa; but at the same time, we also have to have a very clearheaded recognition how important this relationship is, how many aspects need to be maintained and engaged upon. And that’s one of the things that we’ll be seeking to do in Hawaii.

MODERATOR: A question in the back?

QUESTION: Thanks. Sam Kim from Voice of America.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Hi, Sam.

QUESTION: You just mentioned about new development in Korean Peninsula, so could you elaborate a little bit about it? And what is your expectation on the resumption of Six-Party Talks? Secondly, North Korea has been demanding has been demanding peace treaty in Korean Peninsula. So if North Korea returns to the Six-Party Talks, is it possible to start negotiation of peace treaty even before it takes serious step to the denuclearization? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you. Let’s just start a step-by-step process. I think the strong American position – we had a very good initial visit by Ambassador Bosworth and Ambassador Sung Kim. I think we believe the appropriate next step is a resumption of Six-Party dialogue, and we’ve had very close consultations with our partners in this, and I think Ambassador Bosworth and Ambassador Sung Kim conveyed that very strong message to Pyongyang. We’ve made very clear that the door is open, but it’s one door, and that door leads to Six-Party Talks.

And so we are patient, we’re committed to this process. We’re in close consultation with China, with South Korea. And indeed, one of the reasons that the Secretary wants to meet with Foreign Minister Okada is to review the United States and Japan and our respective positions in terms of next steps. Thanks.

MODERATOR: The lady in the center.

QUESTION: Hi, Kurt. Happy New Year. It’s nice to see you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Nice to see you. Happy New Year to you.

QUESTION: Nadia Tsao with the Liberty Times. First of all, I have a question about some reports or story here in Washington predict this will be a very difficult year for U.S. and China for a few things that’s going to unfold, like arms sales to Taiwan and Dalai Lama’s visit in Washington, and all these – you know, economic dispute. So what’s your personal, you know, assessment for, you know, a relationship in 2010?

And second, as Major General Yang Yi in, you know – in China recently publicly suggested China does not only oppose the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, but they will punish any industry who sells those items to Taiwan. I don’t know if you have any comments about that. Thanks.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you. Nadia, we’ve done this for many years. You know I won’t have any comment on the second issue, and I think you know what our longstanding position is in terms of maintaining our responsibilities and following through on them.

On the first point, I think – could you repeat – suddenly, I just – as soon as I was so busy reciting the standard line that I completely forgot the first question. I’m sorry. That’s unbelievably embarrassing. I’m sorry. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Obviously, the second one is more important.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I know. That’s right. That’s right. So I’ve dodged that one. Now let’s get to the first one.

QUESTION: Okay. I just wanted to say that recently, there are a few stories in Washington – yes.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Oh, yes, yes, yeah, yeah. Can I say I think it’s generally the case that – certainly a recognition-- at the beginning of the Obama Administration that there were going to be a number of issues that required closer and deeper consultation and cooperation between Washington and Beijing: climate change, issues on the Korean Peninsula, the necessary work to help sustain a fragile economic financial recovery, hopefully assistance on problematic issues like Iran, Afghanistan, and the like. And I think over the course of the last several months, there has been a deepening dialogue on these issues.

The truth is that this is a very complicated relationship. Much of it is cooperative, based on mutual interest, but the truth is that this requires intense interaction on a regular basis, and I think we can fairly say that the United States is going to be committed to a strong, durable relationship between our two countries.

But inevitably, there will be issues that crop up now and then. And our goal is to put in place enough mechanisms, enough consultative procedures that the unintended crises, the mishaps and mistakes can be dealt with in a responsible and professional way. So I think no one is under any illusions about how challenging the U.S.-China relations will be over the course of the next several years. But I will say there is also, I think, a recognition on both sides that it is incumbent on us to work as closely and as well together as possible.

MODERATOR: In the back.

QUESTION: Yonhap News Agency, South Korea. Do you see any chance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il visiting China soon? Also, do you – okay.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Okay, that one? So I don’t have to dodge the second question? (Laughter.) You just eliminated it. I love that about you. All I would say, I think, is I’ve seen the same reports you’ve seen. There is some speculation. I don’t think we have any comment about that.

MODERATOR: And another here.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Sachiko Deshimaru. I’m a staff writer of Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes, hi.

QUESTION: Thanks for taking my question. I’d like to follow up the Futenma issue. You said that it is important to move forward, and I’m wondering that – according to our prime minister, what he said, we’d like to seek the new location of Futenma. And I’d like to confirm that – is the United States going to accept that? Is it negotiable?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think in our formal interaction between the Government of Japan and the Government of the United States, the message has been that the Government of Japan needs more time to work on these issues, and our response has been that we believe that this is the best approach. Of course, we are committed to working with Japan, to answering questions, to engaging deeply on these issues, and I think that’s the process that we want to put in place.

As I indicated, at the same time that we believe that this is the best approach, and that we want the Japanese Government to support strongly a robust military and particularly Marine commitment on Okinawa and elsewhere, at the same time, we also recognize that this is a broader relationship, that so many things are in play, and I would just point out over the course of the last couple of months, several things have occurred that underscore the importance of Japan as a partner to the United States.

Japan, immediately before President Obama’s arrival, announced the largest aid package of any country to Afghanistan, $5 billion over five years – very substantial, extraordinarily timely and very much appreciated by the Obama Administration at a critical time where the President is putting his prestige and the power of the United States on the line in Afghanistan, so much appreciated.

If you look again in Copenhagen just a few weeks ago, the country that made the most substantial commitments to assisting in the poor countries deal with the tragic consequences of climate change – again, Japan. So there are a number of areas that we’ve seen very clear statements on the part of the Japanese government of wanting to work closely with the United States. But the truth is that this is a security alliance at its core. And security issues are important in a complex and changing Asia, and we want a very clear set of statements on the part of the Japanese Government and a desire to continue to work closely with us, and that’s one of the reasons why we are involved in such a deep set of interactions with our Japanese interlocutors.

QUESTION: Thank you for the briefing.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you.

QUESTION: My name is Kyun Mi Kim and I’m with Seoul Shinmun of the Korean Press. I want a follow-up question on North Korea.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yes.

QUESTION: You have mentioned about the step-by-step approach. But was there any signal from North Korea whether they are willing to come back to the Six-Party Talks? And I think I read that you said there are not – in the near future, there might be some changes. So I want to know, was there any signal from North Korea, and is there any chance for the second visit by Ambassador Bosworth in the near future?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I don’t have very much more to answer. I can repeat the answer I gave to the nice gentleman who only asked one question. But the basic approach is – I don’t know what you’re referring to what I said in terms of changes coming in the future.

We – in Ambassador Bosworth’s meeting with our North Korean interlocutors, there was discussion about the Six-Party process. I think North Korean interlocutors indicated a potential disposition to return to that process. We think that that is essential, and we are making the case that the next step is to convene a Six-Party process meeting. And we think that’s the appropriate avenue for the next round of diplomacy. Within that context, there can be bilateral interactions with Japan, with South Korea, with China. But we think that the Six-Party framework makes sense.

On the tactical issue about whether there will be another informal interaction before that Six-Party process, I really don’t have anything for you on that. But we do think fundamentally, the next step is in the Six-Party framework.

QUESTION: Hi. Katherine Brewer, Australian Broadcasting. Can you add details on some of the specific goals of the Secretary’s visit to Australia?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, the truth is few of our bilateral relations have gone as well, and have done as much, over the course of the last several years. So in many respects, it is just to sustain the very positive momentum that we’ve seen in recent times.

I will say just as Prime Minister Rudd and President Bush had a very close relationship, now we see a similar relationship forming between Prime Minister Rudd – I said Rudd – I meant Howard – Howard and Bush, and Prime Minister Rudd and President Obama. They see eye-to-eye on many issues. They really are interested in the role of governments in modern societies. They talk openly about architecture issues, about China, about climate change.

And so I think that we’re going to be looking for advice and suggestions about architecture-related issues. I think we’re going to be talking directly about China. Obviously in recent months, China and Australia have been through a bit of a rough patch. But Prime Minister Rudd probably is one of the most knowledgeable leaders in the world on China. His advice is always important.

I think, as you know, Australia has a unique relationship with Indonesia. We are in the process of a deeper, comprehensive strategic partnership between our two countries. I think we’re always looking and willing to receive advice and counsel from Australia about those issues. There are some specifics associated with our defense and our intelligence relationship that we will want to update and keep moving.

But I think the range of issues from climate change, the Pacific Islands – our Australian friends are very interested in Japan. In fact, one of the things that we’re finding is that many of our interlocutors in Asia ask us about how are things going, reassure us, tell us that they very much want a strong U.S.-Japan alliance. We’ve heard that from so many countries, including Australia and South Korea.

We’ll also want to talk directly with them. Australia’s working more closely with India and also with Burma as well, and we’ll brief them on the status of our diplomacy.

MODERATOR: I think we have time for two more questions. Okay, we’ll start here.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you. Thank you so much. My name is Hui from Phoenix TV. First you mentioned Hillary, when she goes to Australia, she will talk about China. So would you please describe a little bit more what kind of issues will be mentioned about China? And the second question is: as we know, Hillary has also proposed additional sanctions against Iran. And as we know, China has already said it’s not a good timing to do that. So how will U.S. and China work on this issue? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you. I think we’ll – I’ll take the second question first, if I could. I think the United States has tried to make clear among all the P-5+1 players how critical this next period will be in terms of the diplomacy around Iran and its nuclear program. I think we’ve made very clear a responsible path forward for the Iranian leadership on nuclear-related matters, and that door again is still open. At the same time, we’re working much more closely with the P-5+1 framework about next steps and making clear that there’s a united front when it comes to our views associated with nuclear developments inside Iran.

I think the truth is the United States and China will have deep consultations on this matter, and I expect that those will stretch into the coming weeks. And so I did take note of that comment from the foreign ministry, but at the same time, the United States remains convinced that having China on board and actively engaged in our diplomacy is essential going forward.

And just – I can’t believe it, now I’ve lost – I forgot your first question.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Oh, yeah, what are we going to talk about? (Laughter.) Well, we say – we both talk about how China’s a big country so – (Laughter.)

I mean the truth is that when you travel in Asia today, everyone is interested in the status of U.S.-China relations, people are interested in Chinese economic performance. They’re interested in China’s role in multilateral institutions. They’re interested in investment issues that China’s following and practicing, not just in Southeast Asia, but in Africa and Latin America and elsewhere. I think they’re also very interested in how Chinese leaders interact with each other, with other states, with the United States and Australia just to see if there are any differences in perspectives and views. And we’re always looking for ideas and inspiration for how best to engage. What is one of the most important dramas playing out here in the first part of the 21st century – the arrival of another important strong power on the international scene.

So very few players in the international scene – I think, as you know, Kevin Rudd, who was a former Foreign Service officer of the Australian Foreign Service, served in China, speaks fluently, is very comfortable interacting with Chinese leaders, and frankly, very much enjoys the give and take on thinking about the strategies how best to deal with China. So we’re looking forward to that. I think he’s very personable and has sort of policy wonk in him, and so it’s going to be a very good trip.

Thank you all very much. I appreciate – I’ll take one more question. Sorry, okay.

MODERATOR: We have one more.

QUESTION: I’m Viola Gienger from Bloomberg News. I wanted to ask you about your statement related to expecting very strong statements from Japan related to the relationship. It sounds like what you’re saying is that a gap has opened up in the relationship under the new administration in Japan and you’re looking for them to close it at this point. Is that –

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I don’t – if that’s what you perceived, that’s certainly not what I meant to say. I think what I tried to underscore was that, look, this is the 50th anniversary of the most important piece of security architecture for the United States, and I would argue for Japan in the Asia Pacific region, bar none.

The U.S.-Japan security alliance has provided the foundation for the American engagement in Asia and, I would argue, has provided the context for an Asia that has been essentially at peace for decades. And so it has provided the foundation and the framework for positive economic growth and the maintenance of peace and stability. And when you talk with Asian friends, oftentimes the first issue that comes up in discussion now is a strong desire to make sure the United States and Japanese relationship remains robust. We’re committed to that. And we believe that the Hatoyama government – the new DPJ government – is equally committed to that. And truth is that their new government there – they are finding their feet on some issues. We are committed to working with them. This is a critical alliance. I think we all appreciate and understand that.

I think this next year will give us the opportunity not only to look back with some not small degree of satisfaction of what we’ve accomplished, but also to look forward how can we build on the security alliance, maintain the security alliance, but also confront other pressing challenges together like climate change, like challenges in Afghanistan, and transnational problems that confront all of us. And so we are fundamentally optimistic. We believe that you stay with what works. This has worked. This will continue to work. And we’re actually very much looking forward to the interaction between the Secretary and Foreign Minister Okada.

MODERATOR: Okay, thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you all.

# # #