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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

U.S. Foreign Policy in the Asia-Pacific Region

Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

Daniel Russel, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Asian Affairs
New York, NY
September 21, 2011

1:30 P.M., EDT


MR. RUSSEL: Good afternoon. The one update on my status is that with the retirement of Ambassador Bader in April, I became the special assistant to the President and Senior Director for Asia as a whole. I’m honored to have more important countries added to the portfolio that I work on at the White House and that I work very closely with Assistant Secretary Campbell on.

When the President came to office, as you know very well, he came with the conviction that America needed to do more to invest in our relationships in Asia. He felt that we were under-invested in the Asia Pacific region. And he set as a goal remedying that through a variety of diplomatic, economic, and security initiatives. We have made best efforts to strengthen America’s relationship with our allies, we have worked intensely with emerging regional powers and leaders such as China, Indonesia, India, of course. But we’ve also worked to forge healthy and cooperative relations with countries throughout the Asia Pacific region as well as working closely with the institutions and the arrangements and developing trilateral forms of cooperation that have been very productive and innovative. That’s reflected in our trade strategy and that mindset is reflected also in our security posture planning.

This is President Obama’s third visit to the UN General Assembly. And my own sense, based on the meetings that he is having and the many meetings that Secretary Clinton and Assistant Secretary Campbell are having, is that we have made very good progress. I think that America’s relationships with our allies in the region are in excellent shape, arguably never better. I think we have built positive, comprehensive, constructive relationships with major emerging powers, and I think that the decision by the President to sign the Treaty of Amity TAC, and to participate in person this in the East Asia Summit is illustrative of the commitment and the progress that we’ve made with regard to both Southeast Asia, and more broadly, institutions in the region.

This has been, and will continue to be, an active and a dramatic year in the U.S.-Asia Pacific saga. The Secretary of State participated in the ASEAN regional forum in Bali in July and held a range of very important meetings, including positive work on a number of outstanding security issues. She met with the foreign ministers of the East Asia countries and set the stage for the balance of the fall. Subsequent to that, the Vice President made a trip to Asia, and I hasten to add he did not make a trip to China, he made a trip to Asia. He visited, of course, China, Mongolia, and Japan. Assistant Secretary Campbell accompanied him on that trip, as did I. I think that that was also an important manifestation of our investment in the region.

Looking ahead, the U.S., of course, in addition to the meetings that the President is having in New York, and the Secretary of State continues to have in New York at the UN General Assembly, we’ll also have, of course, bilaterals on the margins of the G-20 meeting in Europe, and most importantly for us, President Obama will be hosting APEC leaders meeting in Honolulu in November. Subsequent to that, as it has been announced, he will travel to another important U.S. treaty ally, Australia, and then he will visit Indonesia for bilateral meetings, for a U.S. ASEAN leaders meeting, and of course for the East Asia summit.

So, the investment of the United States in Asia and in the region is ongoing, is deepening, and I would argue has proven very successful. But let me turn it over to Assistant Secretary Campbell.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you Danny, and good afternoon to everyone. We’ll look forward to taking your questions as well. Let me just say it’s a pleasure and an honor to be able to do this work with my colleague and good friend, Danny Russel, who has assumed these new responsibilities at the White House.

Let me just say that as Senior Director Russel has indicated, the United States is in the midst of a very substantial, critical pivot. We are beginning a process of responsibly standing down some of our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and simultaneously stepping up our substantial, already existing commitments in the Asian Pacific region. And what we have done over the course of the last few years, and what we’ll need to continue going into the future is a comprehensive approach to every aspect of that engagement.

Danny’s already talked about the strong investment, and he will spend a few minutes going through the very good meeting that just took place between the Japanese prime minister and President Obama, but our alliances remain at the core of what we are seeking to do in terms of preserving peace and stability and promoting economic interest in the Asian Pacific region.

We are also seeking to establish stronger partnerships with new players in the region. Clearly, China, is of critical importance here, but it doesn’t end there. We have substantial investments in developing stronger ties with key players like Indonesia. One of the most important aspects of our Asian Pacific strategy is also to work more closely with India and to help put meat on the bones of India’s desire to play a prominent role in the Asian Pacific region going forward. As Danny has indicated, we’ve also made substantial commitments to institutions in Asia. This is a critical time of institution building. We’ve joined the East Asia Summit; we are playing a more active role in the ASEAN Regional Forum. Just last few weeks we had the largest-ever delegation at the Pacific Island Forum to underscore our commitment to the part – when we say, Asia Pacific, sometimes the Pacific gets short shrift. And it is also important to underscore our strong, strategic, and moral and humanitarian commitments there as well.

We are also involved in a very intense process in terms of our force posture. The United States – one of our most important contributions to Asia is our forward deployed forces. We are seeking to strengthen them but also to diversify them and to work more to provide a continuing security role in the Asian Pacific region, and obviously we are taking steps over the last few days to advance our trade agenda, our economic agenda. We remain committed and optimistic about the Korea Free Trade Agreement. We’re making intense efforts on TPP and looking ahead at APEC in terms of revitalizing overall agenda. So what you are seeing is really a comprehensive approach that reflects the fact that much, if not most, of the history of the 21st century will be written in Asia, and the United States wants to be a full part of that history going forward.

Let me ask Danny to talk a little bit about the very good meeting that the President just had with the prime minister, Prime Minister Noda, and then I can give you a little bit more background on some of the issues that are transpiring in Secretary Clinton’s meeting. I think, as you now, Special Representative Mitchell just returned from Burma, and I can give you a little readout on his deliberations and also what we are hoping to do over the balance of the remainder of the week. Thanks.


MR. RUSSEL: Thank you, Kurt. Well, I’d start by saying that President Obama had a bilateral meeting today with Prime Minister Noda. But prior to that yesterday, in the context of the Open Government Partnership, he had an opportunity to spend a little time with another important treaty ally, President Aquino of the Philippines, on the margins of that event, as well as with the president of Mongolia, President Elbegdorj, who was there for the Open Partnership Initiative as well. And these are major relationships of great value to the President and to the United States.

I had the honor of being present when South Korea President Lee Myung-bak last night was honored at the Waldorf by the Appeal of Conscience Foundation as the Statesman of the Year 2011. And my colleague from the White House presented a letter from President Obama and, in fact, I think as we speak, the two presidents are seated along with the Secretary General at a luncheon. That’s an important relationship that will be celebrated next month when President Lee visits Washington for a state visit.

Today, building on the substantive conversation that Secretary Clinton had with the Japanese foreign minister just the other day, the President spent some time talking to Prime Minister Noda, someone who is well-known to us from his important work, first as vice finance minister and then as minister of finance, who worked very closely with Secretary Geithner. I would describe the meeting as very substantive and very efficient. They covered a wide range of the pending issues in the relationship and some of the challenges that both of us face, but in a way that was not vague.

This was not an exchange of platitudes, and these are not leaders who are starting from scratch. The conversation built on the important work that has been underway in the alliance, and, I think, in terms of coordination on the range of economic issues. They talked in depth about the global economy, about our respective roles in cooperation. They talked about regional economic issues, including, as Assistant Secretary Campbell mentioned, APEC, G-20, and the issue of TPP and high quality trade agreements in the region. And they also discussed bilateral economic issues.

On the security side, they discussed the security environment globally, as well as some of the challenges that the alliance itself is continuing to work on. They agreed to continue to work together closely. I was, again, struck by the overwhelming convergence of interests between the U.S. and Japan, between the two leaders, and the continuity of the work that is underway.

But let me invite Assistant Secretary Campbell to give you more granularity on that.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Can I just say – like Dan had been in a lot of these meetings – I was struck at how quickly the two leaders got down to work. And so the open, very warm statement the President highlighted, that this was an extraordinary partnership. The prime minister thanked the United States for its strong, continuing support in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake and nuclear crisis. The President committed that the United States would continue, as we go into a second and third phase of recovery, that we would stand by the people of Japan, very substantial discussion on regional security, agreement that we need to continue close coordination on all issues of common interest, including the Korean Peninsula, maritime security.

We also talked a lot about the global cooperation that the United States and Japan has enjoyed. The President thanked the prime minister for Japan’s continuing commitment, the $5 billion, roughly, to important and critical programs of health and civil security in Afghanistan. We talked about the need to work closely on a range of other issues. We all acknowledged the challenges associated with Futenma replacement. But I think both sides understand that we’re approaching a period where we need to see results, and that was made very clear by the President.

We also discussed the challenges. The President made clear we’d like to see progress after many years on beef, and the prime minister indicated he’d make best efforts. The President also very strongly affirmed the Japanese decision to enter into The Hague Convention – asked that this – on Child Abduction – asked that these steps be taken clearly and that the necessary implementing legislation would be addressed.

He also indicated that while that was an important milestone for Japan, that – he also asked the Japanese prime minister and the government to focus on the preexisting cases, the cases that have come before. The prime minister indicated that very clearly, he knew about the number of cases. He mentioned 123. He said that he would take special care to focus on these particular issues as we – as Japan also works to implement the joining of The Hague Convention, which the United States appreciates greatly.

I think with that, we’ll be happy to take any questions on any issues. Just identify yourself, if you would. We’ll take three here, one in back, and come back for three.

Yes, please.

QUESTION: Hi, Chen Weihua from China Daily. Yeah, I wanted to ask, is the current arrangement of arms sales to Taiwan and (inaudible) goodwill on the U.S. side, or restrained because relations have been good because – instead of selling the new plane, you sell – agree to upgrade the plane?

And the other is you divided the East Asian country as allies, partners. So does that mean – how can you remain impartial in mediating the problem if you just classify them as different layers, say? Obviously, you’d tend to be biased in favor of the allies.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Let me try to – first of all, for those of you who may not have seen the news, let me just go through quickly a statement with respect to Taiwan arms sales and our specific notification to Congress this morning, and Senior Director Russel may have something to say as well.

The Obama Administration, under the Foreign Military Sales program, this morning notified Congress of the sale of arms totaling $5.85 billion. This package includes the retrofit for 145 of Taiwan’s F-16 A/B fighter jets, including radars, weapons, structural upgrades, totaling about $5.3 billion; a five-year extension of F-16 pilot training at Luke Air Force Base here in the United States, totaling about $500 million; and aircraft spare parts for sustaining Taiwan’s F-16s, its existing fleet of F-5s, and C-130 cargo planes, the total amount about $52 million.

It is our strong view that these sales will make a significant contribution to Taiwan’s air defense capabilities because it is upgrading the backbone capability of Taiwan’s air force. This retrofit program will provide a substantial increase in the survivability, the reliability, and the overall combat capabilities of Taiwan’s 145 F-16 A and B fighter aircraft. This will help ensure that Taiwan maintains the capability to protect its airspace in both peacetime and during any crisis. This sale is a clear demonstration of the commitment of this Administration to sustain and improve Taiwan’s defense capabilities.

With this sale, in less than two years, the Obama Administration has sold over $12 billion in arms to Taiwan. And just to give you a sense, this amount is comparable or greater than at any other period in U.S. relations – unofficial relations with Taiwan. We are taking these steps consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, in close consultation with Congress. We firmly believe that our arms sales to Taiwan contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

I would also just underscore that we believe that we have seen substantial progress in dialogue and diplomacy across the Taiwan Straits between China and Taiwan over the course of the last several years. We support that process, we encourage it, and we want it to go forward. And we think that these particular steps allow Taiwan to engage in both diplomacy, in security, and in the knowledge of the strong relationship with the United States.

Danny, do you want to jump in on it?

MR. RUSSEL: Thank you. Well, two things: One, I’d just like to reinforce the principles that Assistant Secretary Campbell just annunciated, namely that the preservation of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is fundamentally and profoundly in the strategic interests of the U.S. and our allies and partners. The progress in cross-strait ties over the past few years via dialogue and diplomacy, as Kurt said, has been a major contributor to that stability, and the U.S. strongly supports the efforts on both sides of the strait, and that we firmly believe that U.S. support for Taiwan’s defense needs is conducive to that stability. I think that’s the critical strategic principle at work here.

With regard to your question about allies, partnerships, and so on, I don’t think that there is a single index by which one can assess the importance of the bilateral relationships between the United States and a foreign country. We deal with countries as they are, and we work on the issues as we confront them. That said, there is a qualitative difference between an alliance, and one of the great attributes of U.S. national power is the alliances built on shared interests, shared goals, and common values. These alliances are precious to the people of the United States and are tended carefully by this government. That is without prejudice to our important relationships and important partnerships. And since our role in Asia is not as a mediator, but as a partner and a stabilizing power, I don’t think there is any contradiction or any problem in that regard.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Let me just add one other point to that if I could, please. I think one could make an argument that the last 40 years, in many respects, have been the best 40 years in China’s history. And I think the primary contributing factor in that has been the strength and the ingenuity of the Chinese people. And that’s just undeniable. And that’s something that, frankly, all of Asia celebrates. But we have to be clear that there are other contributing factors. The peace and stability of which the United States has largely underwritten in the Asia Pacific region has provided the context for this remarkable stability and growth. The U.S. market has been open for Asian goods and services for decades, serving as a major boost for increase in productivity and earnings. Obviously, now we’re moving into a period where we’re going to see a need to rebalance overall. But the role that the United States has played has been and continues to be essential.

And then lastly, we have done everything we can to integrate new partners into the global system. We champion the G-20 as a tradition – transition from being an institution primarily about Europe, G-7, G-8. Now, fully half of its members are Asian. We strongly supported India’s role in Asia and particularly China’s role in global institutions and the like. So I think we’ve taken steps, as Danny has indicated, to welcome and to work closely with a range of partners with a deep understanding that most of the challenges in Asia are challenges that we confront together, not as a alliances or as separate nations.

Next question, yeah. We’re going to take two questions, and I’m sorry to go on so long on the Taiwan answer (inaudible).

QUESTION: Nice to see you again. (Inaudible) from (inaudible). On the meeting between President and Prime Minister Noda, can you give us a little bit more details about the discussion of Futenma and TPP? Did the President make any specific requests to Prime Minister Noda?

And also very quickly on North Korea, the meeting – the talks between North Korea and South Korea took place in Beijing, and North Korean envoys called for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks without any preconditions. What’s your response to that, and are you prepared to have another round of direct talks with North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Yeah. I’ll take the TPP issue, and I think Danny will take the Futenma and North Korea. But let’s take one more question, and then we’ll come back to this.

Gentleman, you’re right behind. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Matthew Pennington from AP. A follow-up on the Taiwan question. Does this decision leave open the possibility that the U.S. would sell C/Ds in the future? And are you worried about the legislation that’s being put forward in Congress that’s demanding the Administration sell these planes?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Okay. Thank you. I’ll answer that question, then the first one, and then turn it over to Danny. And this will be all we’ll have to say on the Taiwan issue at this time.

No decisions have been made on selling new F-16 C/D aircraft. It is still under consideration, and we are aware of Taiwan’s requests to the United States Government. The United States and Taiwan will continue to examine the F-16 C/D issue in the context of our discussions about Taiwan’s overall defense needs.

Let me just say that this was a brief meeting. It was a good meeting, a substantive meeting as Danny indicated. I think the President laid out clearly the progress that we are making on TPP. We are working with our partnerships, the hope of reaching a framework agreement. I think we made clear that we would welcome Japan’s engagement, at least a discussion about TPP. He noted the statements that members of his administration and the prime minister had made as well. He asked for an update on the status of that, and I think basically our overall message was one of encouragement, and we believe that such a step is not just an economic issue; it’s a strategic issue. And I think personally I can imagine few things more important than the United States and Japan being engaged in a strategic set of discussions about economic issues in the Asian Pacific region going forward.


MR. RUSSEL: On the issue of Futenma, Prime Minister Noda brought the President up to date on the Noda government position and strategy for moving forward on Futenma’s replacement facility, and both leaders shared the view that this is a priority and that there’s a great deal of important work that needs to be done. So the emphasis is on common ground and on a common effort to achieve our common goals.

On North Korea, the fact that the North Koreans and the South Koreans met in Beijing is in and of itself a good thing. We continue to hold to the view that progress in inter-Korean relations is a critical element of making progress on the broader Korean Peninsula issues, including and especially the important issue of implementing North Korea’s denuclearization commitments. The – it’s for the South Koreans and the North Koreans, of course, to read out the meeting and provide their own assessment.

One could say it’s a little rich for the North Koreans, who walked out of the Six-Party Talks to do a turnabout and declare that the time has come for everybody to let bygones be bygones and to resume. That said, the United States holds to the view that negotiations – real negotiations are necessary to implement both the UN Security Council resolutions and North Korea’s obligations – international obligations under that and the 2005 joint statement and North Korea’s commitments under that.

Our position and the position shared by the Republic of Korea as well as Japan is that we look for some indication, some seriousness of purpose on North Korea’s part that what it is willing to join in is a bona fide negotiating process that will generate results, that those results will be commitments that North Korea will indeed honor. And the way to do that is to begin the process of implementing and living up to the commitments that it’s already made. So we welcome the fact of the meeting, and we welcome any real indication from North Korea that, in fact, they’re prepared to take the steps that will lead back to real negotiations and the path – the constructive path towards denuclearization President Obama has repeatedly invited them to take.

MODERATOR: Take a question from Washington, and then we’ll do one back here. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thanks for doing this. About ten days ago, you had dialogue with Indian officials on East Asia and Pacific. Can you give us more details what were the issues specifically discussed and did the issue of South China Sea came up through the talks? And secondly, when you meet Burmese foreign minister at New York this week or – what are the issue that you’ll be discussing with him, and will the U.S. be supporting the Burma’s bid for heading ASEAN?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Thank you. Let’s take a couple more questions, and then we’ll answer them. Anyone else? Any other questions? Yeah.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) with Shimbun Japanese Newspaper. Hi. Nice to see you, sir. Well, again, related to Taiwan. Initial reports from Taiwan regarding the retrofitting of A/Bs is that they – although they welcome, it is not enough to counter the threats of the strengthening Chinese air power. So how do you address these Taiwanese concern for – under the next arms sale?

QUESTION: Also, sorry. (Inaudible) but related to Taiwan. Paul Eckert of Reuters. There was a tiny kerfuffle involving the visit by the DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen and comments made seemingly exclusively to the Financial Times. Can you clarify the U.S. Government’s stance on the DPP or at least on the elections and the U.S. role and their reviews thereof?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Okay. We’ll divide these questions a little bit. Let me take the Burma and the India question first if I could, please, and then – I’m not going to get into too great a detail further beyond what we’ve said already about the arms sales.

But let me just indicate that part of the robust set of relationships that are developing between the United States and India is a very good dialogue between officials in India from all their agencies and the United States about the Asian Pacific region. And these discussions range from issues associated with trade, common developments with regard to maritime security, energy flows, interests in strong relationships with China and Japan, other key nations in the region, a desire on the part of India to be briefed on our strategy with relation to our force posture and our economic issues.

It’s among the best meetings that I am involved in, and I really enjoyed the trust and confidence that have developed between our Indian and American interlocutors, and it’s a process very similar, like the process that we have with Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tian-kai and also with Japanese colleagues. They are becoming part of the architecture of the region in every respect.

Later this week, we’ll be having a series of meetings on Burma and will be meeting with the foreign minister. Special Representative Derek Mitchell just returned from Burma, and he had good meetings in Naypyidaw and very good meetings with Aung San Suu Kyi and other people associated with civil society and various ethnic minority groups inside the country while he was in Burma.

I think it would be fair to say that there – the winds of change are clearly blowing through Burma. The extent of it is still unclear, but everyone who’s gone there recognizes that there are changes. There are still extraordinarily worrisome developments there in terms of treatment of minorities, there are a very large number of political prisoners, and there continue to be repressions on a daily basis. But at the same time, we’ve seen a few things in the last few months that were unthinkable: very high-level meetings between the new president and Aung San Suu Kyi, regular discussions about civil society, about new economic policies. These are all tentative steps that can be reversed, and it’s important to be careful about them. But at the same time, it’s also important not to just dismiss them out of hand. And so the United States, working with other countries, we’ve been in close consultation with every Southeast Asian friend, with China, with India, with Australia, with New Zealand, Japan. Our determined desire is to encourage the government to continue to take steps on the release of political prisoners, to abide by commitments on proliferation, to cease actions deemed illegal by the UN Security Council with respect to North Korea, and to follow through on some of the important initial interactions that the government has had with Aung San Suu Kyi and others.

So again, it’s a very – it’s a delicate period, and the United States intends to engage actively to seek clear answers about what’s happening and to push for further progress and more steps on the ground. I would simply say – just on the Taiwan points, I would, first of all, underscore that the United States over decades has maintained an unwavering commitment to the peace and stability of the cross-strait, and we will continue that, and that commitment is strong and resolute.

You will see, today, I think, statements from Taiwan welcoming this decision, recognizing the important role it plays in sustaining Taiwan’s defenses. And obviously, as we’ve indicated, we’ve made no further decisions going forward. But I would underscore, again, if you look at this period of time, very substantial commitments compared with any other previous administration, very substantial commitments. And our unofficial relationship is strong. We are working on people-to-people engagements, a variety of other initiatives strongly sought after by the Taiwan Government. And we believe that the approach that we have taken is prudent and careful, and we will continue along those lines.

Let me ask Danny to take a few.

MR. RUSSEL: Thanks. Just to pick up on those two points, first, that the U.S. and Taiwan have a longstanding and robust defense dialogue, and that’s the forum through which we discuss and make decisions on all areas of defense cooperation and that we base our decisions on a common understanding of Taiwan’s defense needs.

I also am aware of the quote in the Financial Times of an anonymous source, of him saying some skepticism about the – some elements of the DPP’s position on cross-straits strategy. The State Department, at the time, issued a very good statement on behalf of the entire government. And to put it in a nutshell, there is no interference in Taiwan’s election. The U.S. strongly supports Taiwan’s democracy. We respect the will of the voters and the people of Taiwan to choose their own leaders in the upcoming election, and we work within the context of our official relationship with whoever the people of Taiwan elect.

In fact, many of us had substantive discussions with Madam Tsai, the chairwoman of the Democratic People’s Party, when she visited Washington. And although we don’t talk publicly about the content of those meetings, she was accorded a very respectful and set of senior meetings while she was in Washington that enabled both sides to fully exchange views and understand the other.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: If I could just make one other point, what’s really changed – the context that’s changed since the enactment of the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 is actually the coming of democracy to Taiwan, and it’s one of the most flourishing, frankly exciting, democracies not only in Asia, but across the globe. And it would not be in U.S. interests to do anything that would undermine that democracy. In fact, it’s one of the most important things that bids us and links us in important, not just strategic ways.

And so I just want to underscore very clearly what Danny said. We – when we met with Madam Tsai, she had – we had very good meetings in the sense that they were substantive. We asked clear questions about her platform. We were able to exchange views in a very respectful manner, and I think our general approach will be to welcome and support the strong democracy that will exhibit itself again in January of 2012 in Taiwan.

We can take one last question, please, maybe two, if we’ve got time. Anyone else? Anyone else? Okay. One last, quickly.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) from India Today Group. Yeah. Can you hear me? This is Tejinder Singh from India Today Group. You have been mentioning about very good relations with India. But Indian media feels that the honeymoon that was started with Obama’s visit to India is over. Can you just list at least three recent solid cooperations that we can see on paper instead of just some talks? And president – during President Bush time, whenever Prime Minister Singh visited the U.S., they always met. Why this cold shouldering this time around?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I hate bureaucratic answers to questions like this, but I will underscore that the U.S. State Department is divided in such a way that the India bureau lies outside of my responsibilities. And so my discussions with Indian counterparts are about the Asian Pacific region, so I can speak authoritatively about those deliberations, sir.

And I do believe that there has been enormous progress in the U.S.-Indian relationship over the last 10 years, and I believe that progress has continued in all fields – in people-to-people, in defense. And my own personal experience of these talks, frankly, have been, I think, emblematic. When they began almost two years ago, even though I had spent an enormous amount of time in the private sector in my academic and other capacities having interactions with Indian friends, our initial meetings were formulaic and fairly prescribed. What we now have is a very wide-ranging, very deep set of discussions about common interests, areas where we can cooperate and work together, and basically an exploration of strategic objectives.

Now, it may be that I’m at the State Department and I tend to highlight these things, but the fact is these sorts of meetings, these sorts of interactions, are extraordinarily important in gaining a sense of how a country thinks about its future and the direction that it wants to take. So I would not dismiss them out of hand, and I believe that they are a major contribution to what I believe will be a defining partnership of the 21st century, and that is the relationship between the United States and India. We are destined to be much closer friends in the time ahead.

Thank you. Thank you all very much.

MODERATOR: Thank you.

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