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This schedule completely obliterates any chance that she will be in D.C. for hearings on the Hill next week.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 9, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to Perth and Adelaide, Australia; Singapore; Bangkok, Thailand; Rangoon, Burma; and Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 11-20, 2012.

On November 11, Secretary Clinton will travel to Perth, Australia to join U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to discuss security cooperation and other regional and global issues. In Perth, Secretary Clinton will meet with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr. She will also visit the new Western Australia – United States & Asia Centre (USAC). She will then travel to Adelaide where she will meet with Australian business leaders as well as visit Techport Australia, Australia’s largest and most advanced shipbuilding facility.

Secretary Clinton will travel to Singapore on November 16-17 to meet with senior government officials, including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam, on a wide range of issues.

On November 17, Secretary Clinton will travel to Bangkok, Thailand. She will join President Obama and his delegation on November 18 for meetings with Prime Minister Yingluck and other senior Thai officials to underscore our strong alliance and discuss shared priorities and regional issues in advance of the ASEAN East Asia Summit.

Secretary Clinton will accompany President Obama to Burma on November 19, and join his meetings with Burmese President Thein Sein and Chair of the National League for Democracy and Member of Parliament Aung San Suu Kyi.

Secretary Clinton will also accompany President Obama on his travel to Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 19-20 to attend the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting and the East Asia Summit.

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There were two ministerial events today involving Lower Mekong Initiatives and Friends.  Here are her remarks at both.

Remarks From the Fifth Lower Mekong Initiative Ministerial

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Peace Palace
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress.) The United States is proud of the work we are doing together in the LMI. It is a key component of our ongoing cooperation with ASEAN and efforts to spur regional integration and close the development gap. It’s also a key component of our larger strategy in Asia, where we are working with partners to expand security, promote economic development, and strengthen people-to-people ties.

We created this forum three and a half years ago because we saw great potential in coming together to solve challenges in health, infrastructure, the environment, and education. And we saw an opportunity to create an action-oriented group that is inclusive but also flexible. So far, through the LMI, we’ve improved the way we measure the effects of climate change, started sharing best practices in the management of great rivers like the Mekong, expanded opportunities for workers in key areas to learn English, just to name a few areas of collaboration.

Today we are taking several steps that build on the work we’ve already done together.

First, because we recognize that our efforts must continue to evolve if we are going to advance the aspirations of our people, we are reorganizing some of our work.

Vietnam will co-chair a strengthened Pillar on Environment and Water which will include a broader focus on sanitation, flood management, urban water supplies, and related issues.

Our colleagues from Nay Pyi Taw will co-chair a new Agriculture and Food Security Pillar which will further our collective efforts to sustain food security for people throughout the Mekong region.

And in line with one of ASEAN’s top priorities, we are building a Connectivity Pillar co-chaired by Laos which will focus not only on how best to build roads and power lines, but also how to close the so-called digital divide and strengthen ties among our institutions and people.

Second, we have begun discussions about establishing a group of outside independent experts who could offer fresh thinking on subregional integration, sustainable development, economic competitiveness, and other areas of mutual interest.

And finally, I am delighted to announce a new, long-term commitment by the United States to support the Lower Mekong Initiative. As part of our Asia Pacific Security Engagement Initiative, we are launching LMI 2020. As the name implies, it is a multiyear vision for how the United States can help each of our partners together as well as individually to build a more prosperous region through each of the LMI pillars.

For example, as part of LMI 2020, we will support a new partnership between the Government of Vietnam and Harvard University to train the region’s next generation of public policy experts and leaders in key areas. Other efforts under LMI 2020 will ramp up the fight against malaria and climate change. Initially, we will seek to invest $50 million in LMI 2020 over the next three years. This is in addition to the bilateral support we already provide each of the countries here around the table.

Now, I want to be very clear. We think this initiative has great potential, but it can only be successful if we have the full participation of all the partners, because we need your ideas and we need your very constructive and candid dialogue with us. So we are developing an LMI coordinating network, and as the first step we will set up a coordination hub at the USAID Mission in Bangkok. And it’s time to move the center of LMI closer to the Mekong River so that we can enhance cooperation and connectivity.

LMI 2020 also touches on the serious questions of building dams along the main stem of the Mekong. And I want to thank the Foreign Minister from Lao PDR for the excellent meetings we had when I was just there with your government. In the past, I have urged partner countries to pause on any considerations to build new dams until everyone could fully assess their impact. Some studies have explored the benefits of generating electricity, but questions – serious questions – remain about the effects on fisheries, agriculture, livelihoods, environment, and health.

So through LMI 2020, we are prepared to commit up to $1 million, along with other donors, to support studies on these unanswered questions. We will also help the Mekong River Commission build up its technical capacity through an additional $2 million grant for its work on sustainable fisheries and rural livelihoods.

Later today, I will also raise the issue of dams with the Friends of the Lower Mekong, because other donors can and should support this work as well.

So I hope the actions that I’ve described today will be further evidence of American commitment to the people of this region. We’re proud to be your partners, enduring partners as you promote security and prosperity, and we look forward to many years of working together.

Now I would like to ask the Assistant Administrator from USAID Nisha Biswal to make a few remarks.

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Remarks at the Second Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Peace Palace
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much for being here for the Friends of the Lower Mekong meeting, and let me begin by thanking our host, the Government of Cambodia. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, thank you so much. There are many familiar faces from last year’s meeting as well as a few new ones. I’d like to welcome our colleagues from the nonprofit organizations and academic institutions who are joining us for the first time this year. I know we will benefit from your insights. And as I said in the ministerial meeting of the Lower Mekong Initiative just a few minutes ago, we’re very pleased to have our latest new member, and we are looking forward to working with the officials in Nay Pyi Taw on so many of these important initiatives. And we’re pleased that the Foreign Minister could be with us.

We are here because each of us supports the evolution of a strong ASEAN as the anchor for stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific. And as ASEAN itself has made clear, in order to reach that goal, we need to narrow the development gap among member-states and improve regional integration throughout the Mekong subregion. So when our fellow members of the Lower Mekong Initiative came to us and suggested creating a new group that would coordinate the efforts of many donors and institutions who provide assistance in this region, we were eager to help. After all, the development community has been talking for years about how we need to improve donor coordination and support country ownership of assistance programs. In creating the Friends of the Lower Mekong, we saw an opportunity to show that we are backing up our word with action.

For the United States, the Friends of the Lower Mekong is just one part of our long-term commitment to the region. I announced earlier today that we are launching a series of new programs which we’re calling LMI 2020 that will support each of the initiative’s pillars. Initially, we seek to invest $50 million over three years in LMI 2020, and that is in addition to the bilateral assistance we already provide. This funding will help train the region’s next generation of public policy experts and leaders, ramp up the fight against malaria, promote innovation and sound policies for sustainable infrastructure, focus on many of the problems that the nations represented here have brought to our attention.

Now, of course, each of the governments and organizations around the table could tell a similar story about your contributions. And we think in order to have maximum impact, we need to coordinate all of our efforts. And the question we face is how to do that most effectively. Today I want to propose a two-track structure for the Friends of the Lower Mekong that will help us make the most of our efforts.

One track would be a dialogue among partner countries, aid agencies, NGOs, and the multilateral development institutions, building on the principles that were adopted in Paris, Accra, and Busan. We would expand information sharing, support efforts to strengthen country ownership, and encourage emerging donors to commit to delivering results with accountability and transparency.

The other track would consist of the dialogues we were already having at the level of senior officials and ministers. Our respective donor agencies would also be party to those discussions, and the agenda could include human security challenges that cross national boundaries, such as the impact of hydropower, development, environmental degradation, climate change, health, infrastructure development, trafficking in drugs and human beings, and migration.

Today I would ask the FLM ministers to endorse these two tracks as steps we will take to better results for the people of the region.

And finally, I would like to emphasize the importance of supporting the Mekong River Commission. The Mekong River Basin is one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. It’s really a miracle of the way it operates in this region. Millions – tens, hundreds of millions of people – depend directly or indirectly on it for their livelihoods. But it is also extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change and infrastructure development. That’s why it’s important that national and regional strategies be based on sound scientific assessments of any impact that could be forthcoming.

The United States believes that the Mekong River Commission is the best forum for facilitating these assessments. Earlier today I announced we are prepared to commit up to $1 million to support the commission studies on sustainable management and development of the Mekong River which will look at, among other things, the potential impact of future dams on the main stem of the river. I had an excellent series of discussions with the Government of Lao PDR, and I thank the Minister, the Prime Minister for those discussions.

And we have twinned the Mekong River Commission with the Mississippi River Commission, because I’ll be very honest with you; we made a lot of mistakes. Just to be very blunt about it, we started more than a hundred years ago, so we’ve learned some hard lessons about what happens when you make certain infrastructure decisions. And I think that we all can contribute to helping the nations of the Mekong region avoid the mistakes that we and others made. And I think it’s important that the Friends of the Lower Mekong support these studies and support the Mekong River Commission.

Because after all, our ultimate goal is to support the countries of this region as you work to provide your people with a better future. And that does include good schools, health care, electricity, economic opportunity, connectivity. And if we work together, I believe that we can contribute to the extraordinary progress we see taking place here in the Lower Mekong Region.

So thank you all for being with us, and thank you for being committed to this important effort.

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Meeting With Embassy Staff and Their Families

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Raffles Hotel le Royal
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 13, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Ambassador. Well, it is a great pleasure for me to have this chance to see you and to say thank you. Thank you for another successful trip. I know it took about eight months of planning and a real team effort to prepare for ASEAN, EAS, ARF, LMI, FLMI – lots of acronyms but lots of important work which we could not do without all of you. Thank you so much, Ambassador. That’s quite a compliment, 30 years of service, and you’ve got such a wonderful team here.

But it’s not those special occasions that I particularly want to thank you for. It’s really the work you do day in and day out for the relationship that we have, the building and deepening over the last three and a half years. And I know that there is an enormous amount of effort. Under Ambassador Todd’s leadership, there’s been a lot of innovation and energy that is really helping us focus our efforts. And I want to thank DCM Jeff Daigle for his great work. He’s been wearing a lot of hats over the past year. They all seem to fit pretty well.

This is the end of a 10-day trip to the Asia Pacific for me before we go to Siem Reap today, and then tomorrow I head to the Middle East. But expanding our engagement and attention in this region has really been one of our top priorities. And if you look at Cambodia emerging from three decades of such a brutal conflict, it started to write its own chapter. And if you look at the events just of the last few days, it’s remarkable because a few years ago, people would never have suggested that Phnom Penh host this kind of a forum.

And we’re proud to be playing a part in helping the people of Cambodia. When you teach families how to diversify their crops, their diet, their incomes, you help them build a brighter future for their children. When you monitor elections, you give voters reason to trust their voices will be heard and their votes will be counted. When you deliver medical supplies and needles to provinces from Pailin to Kep, you’re helping fight HIV/AIDS. In the last decade alone, thanks largely to U.S. Government help, NGO help, there’s been a 60 percent drop in new cases. Your work with the Cambodian NGO community to fight human and drug trafficking is saving lives. And I’m especially proud of all that you’re doing to bring to justice those who violated universal human rights and international law under the Khmer Rouge.

And I think it’s important that we keep focused on the people of Cambodia, on their rights, on their potential, on their future. I said yesterday we’re working to try to make sure babies live till their fifth birthday, that mothers don’t die in childbirth, that people do survive not only HIV/AIDS but other terrible diseases that are still all too prevalent, that we support human rights, that we support the NGO community. And you do all of this in difficult circumstances. I know monsoons can keep you trapped in the Embassy for hours. Traffic on Norodom or Russian Boulevard can make your commute nearly impossible. I know the wage freeze has been tough; I understand that, and especially with the cost of living going up. And I want you to know I will continue to raise this with members of Congress.

And for many of you, this work is not only professional, it’s personal. And I particularly want to thank our locally employed staff. I know that our Cambodian staff has been the real backbone of this Embassy, that ambassadors come and go and secretaries of state come and go, but our locally employed staff is really committed, and we’re very appreciative of all you are doing.

Now, you will have to – as soon as I leave – take a quick break, a respite, and then pretty soon start planning for the President’s visit in November. And if you think this has been complicated, wait till you see that. (Laughter.) I’ve been on both sides of this equation. In the ‘90s I traveled around with the President, and then as you know, I now see the effect that a presidential visit has, but it’s a wonderful sign of where our relationship is and the attention we’re paying to the region that the President is now representing us in the East Asia Summit.

So thanks again for all your long hours of work and your unending commitment to this relationship, and I look forward to shaking some hands. And just keep up all of the energy and the focus and the attention on to what really matters, and that is helping the people of this country have a chance to fulfill their own God-given potential. Thank you all. (Applause.)

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That’s Vietnamese FM Pham Binh Minh with whom she’s toasting. No matter how long and hard her day, she always sparkles like the champagne at these affairs.

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Press Availability in Phnom Penh

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson
Peace Palace
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 12, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, thank you very much for being so patient. There has been a lot of good work and constructive dialogue occurring. And I am very pleased to have had the chance, as I’ve traveled across Asia this week to talk about the breadth of American engagement, especially our work to strengthen economic ties and support democracy and human rights, along with our commitment to common security. This is all part of advancing our vision of an open, just, and sustainable regional order for the Asia Pacific based on institutions, norms, and partnerships that benefit all people and nations. And I think we are seeing what that means in practice.First, as to institutions, I spent several hours today meeting with colleagues at both the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum, and yesterday at the U.S.-ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference. These institutions are at the heart of America’s expanding, multi-faceted engagement in the region. From boosting trade to expanding educational and cultural exchanges so strengthening security arrangements, these meetings are valuable opportunities for all the key players in the region to sit down together to grapple with some of the most important challenges we are facing.

Today, we reviewed progress in Burma, and I announced that the United States is easing sanctions to allow American businesses to invest there. We discussed North Korea and the importance of maintaining a united front in support of the peaceful, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And we focused on the need to improve coordination on important issues like cyber security and disaster relief. It is significant that 45 percent of all the natural disasters in the world occur in this East Asia region.

One of the other issues we discussed in particular underscores the value of these multilateral institutions and also the importance of establishing clear regional norms, and that is the South China Sea. As you know, the United States has no territorial claims in the South China Sea, and we do not take sides in disputes about territorial or maritime boundaries, but we do have a fundamental interest in freedom of navigation, the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful commerce. And we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats, and certainly without the use of force.

No nation can fail to be concerned by the increase in tensions, the uptick in confrontational rhetoric, and disagreements over resource exploitation. We have seen worrisome instances of economic coercion and the problematic use of military and government vessels in connection with disputes among fisherman. So we look to ASEAN and China to make meaningful progress toward finalizing a code of conduct for the South China Sea that is based on international law and agreements. As I told my colleagues, this will take leadership, and ASEAN is at its best when it meets its own goals and standards and is able to speak with one voice on issues facing the region.

The third building block of an effective regional order is a network of partnerships and alliances, and today I had a productive trilateral meeting with Japan and South Korea and bilateral meeting with High Representative Ashton of the European Union, the foreign ministers of China, Indonesia, and Singapore. America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea are cornerstones of our engagement in the region, and all three of us have stepped up our engagement with ASEAN, including by establishing dedicated missions to ASEAN in Jakarta. So this was a chance to compare notes on a wide range of common concerns and priorities.

Turning to Europe, the United States welcomes the EU’s increased engagement in Asia, and High Representative Ashton and I discussed ways we can work together in the region to advance our shared interests in promoting wider peace and prosperity.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang and I reviewed a long list of joint U.S.-China efforts on everything from science and technology to energy and the environment, to public health and safety. We recognize that a zero-sum approach in the Asia Pacific will lead only to negative-sum results, so we are committed to working with China within a framework that fosters cooperation where interests align and manages differences where they do not. That is part of what it means to achieve an effective regional order.

So in every way we can, we are sending a clear message: The United States is a resident Pacific power and we are committed to the future. In my meetings throughout Asia, I sometimes hear questions about whether the United States will back up our commitment with increased resources. So here in Phnom Penh, I was proud to announce a significant new effort to reform and reinvigorate our assistance programs to ASEAN and beyond. It is called the Asia Pacific Strategic Engagement Initiative, or APSEI, and I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow at the meetings of the Lower Mekong Initiative.

I’m also looking forward to traveling to Siem Reap to participate in the U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum and to discuss the importance of worker’s rights and women’s rights at a Lower Mekong conference on gender equity and empowerment.

So we’ve covered a lot of ground and let me stop there and take your questions.

MS. NULAND: We’ll take three tonight. We’ll start with Nicole Gaouette from Bloomberg.

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, you just have to talk into it —

QUESTION: Okay. Testing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: Could you outline us – for us the stakes if ASEAN and China fail to reach an agreement on a code of conduct for the South China Sea? And we also understand that ASEAN has had a great deal of difficulty reaching an agreement on a final communiqué. And I’m interested in your thoughts on what this says about the group’s ability to deal with thorny regional challenges.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Well, let me begin by saying that the discussions are continuing and they are intense, so we will see what the outcome is. But frankly, I think it is a sign of ASEAN’s maturity that they are wrestling with some very hard issues here. They’re not ducking them; they are walking right into them. And I have worked in many multilateral settings, and it is not at all unusual for much more mature organizations to be working on and discussing and even arguing about certain matters past the deadlines in order to try to see if there’s a way forward.

So I think we’ll wait. And it’s not up the United States. It’s up to ASEAN. It’s not up to China, it’s up to ASEAN. It’s not up to any outside nation or organization. It’s up to the ASEAN members themselves. And ASEAN stresses unity, and the slogan of the meeting here is “One Community, One Destiny.” And as organizations like ASEAN mature and develop, it becomes necessary to address hard issues, and we wish them well.

MS. NULAND: Next one. (Inaudible.) Sorry?

QUESTION: (Off mike.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let’s wait and see what happens.

MS. NULAND: Next one, Khan Sophirom from the Ramsei Kampuchea Daily.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Is there any specific policy to Cambodia during your two-day visit in Phnom Penh? And what about the about the over 400 million Cambodians that have (inaudible)? Is there any development on that?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I couldn’t understand the second part of the question. I heard about is there anything in this – during my visit on assistance to Cambodia. But I couldn’t understand the second point.

QUESTION: What about the Cambodian debt – our 400 million U.S. —

MS. NULAND: Cambodian debt.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, the debt. The debt. Okay. I’m sorry. Thank you. First, the United States remains strongly committed to working with and supporting the Cambodian people. Our development assistance has more than doubled in the last decade. It is now more than $75 million. We also, through our efforts on global health and HIV/AIDS, have worked with the Cambodian Government and NGOs in combating HIV/AIDS. We’re also encouraged from work we’ve been doing over a number of years to see recent reductions in maternal and child mortality. We’re working with Cambodia through our Feed the Future Initiative to help meet the needs of nearly 25 percent of the Cambodian population that is food deprived. So we’re working to translate development assistance into meaningful improvements in the lives of Cambodian people.

Now sometimes it is a little frustrating, I will admit, for the United States, because we channel our aid in so far as possible to the people themselves. We want more people fed. We want more people healthier. We want more men, women, and especially children to have a better life. So we cannot point to a big building we have built, but we can point to more children being alive, more people surviving HIV/AIDS, more women surviving childbirth, and we will continue to do everything we can to help the Cambodian people realize their own futures.

With respect to bilateral debt, under international law, governments are responsible for the obligations of their predecessors even though that may seem unfair in many instances. So what we want to do is work with the Cambodian Government to try to resolve these longstanding issues in a way that is fair, to help the Cambodian Government enhance its credit worthiness, increase its access to international capital markets. We think it will be in Cambodia’s interest to be able to enter into international financial markets, not be dependent on any one source of funding, but be able to bargain and work toward real credit worthiness. So we’re working with the Cambodian Government, and I’m hoping we will make progress in trying to resolve this issue. It’s something I personally am committed to doing.

MS. NULAND: Last one tonight, Margaret Brennan, CBS, please.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, do you see any signs that Russia is going to support sanctions on Syria in the UN Security Council? There have been a number of developments this week, reports of Russian ships headed toward Syria, the defection of the Syrian ambassador to Iraq and now talk about public debate in Iran about supporting the Assad regime. What are your thoughts?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Margaret, I had the chance to discuss these issues at length with UN Special Envoy Kofi Annan last night following his consultations in Damascus, Tehran, and Baghdad, but before he briefed the UN Security Council. And I was encouraged that he is now asking for more support in the form of a UN Security Council resolution that not only endorses the political transition plan that the action group agreed on in Geneva but that has real consequences for noncompliance. The United States is determined to support him because our experience of the last year makes it absolutely clear that the Assad regime will not do anything without additional further pressure. I had a good discussion of these issues with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang today, and we agreed to do all we can in New York to see the Geneva plan, which was signed onto by all five permanent members of the UN Security Council – including Russia and China – be implemented.

So we do see the pressure building. Senior military figures from the Syrian army are defecting every week. We just had the first major diplomatic defection, the Syrian ambassador to Iraq turned on the regime yesterday. The economy is in shambles. The regime is struggling to hold onto large parts of the country.

So we do look to the Security Council and all of its members, including Russia, to join us in a serious resolution that gives Special Envoy Kofi Annan what he needs, what he’s asking for, and imposes real consequences on the regime for continuing to defy its obligations first and foremost to its own people and then to the international community. And we call on the Syrian military and business community to choose a democratic future rather than to cling to this crumbling regime. So we are working hard in New York, in other capitals, trying to make sure that we build on Kofi Annan’s latest reporting and request, and we hope to see steady progress. Thank you very much.

MS. NULAND: Thank you, all.

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Remarks at the U.S.-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Peace Palace
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
July 11, 2012

Thank you very much, Secretary del Rosario, and let me express my pleasure at being here today. This is my fourth U.S.-ASEAN post-ministerial conference. And it gives us the chance to mark 35 years of partnership between ASEAN and the United States and to affirm and strengthen our ties. I want to thank our host, the Government of Cambodia, and for their preparations and their hospitality we are very appreciative. And let me also thank the foreign secretary in the Philippines, our country coordinator for the last three years, and to all of the colleagues around the table.

I also want to acknowledge that we are looking forward to working with the incoming country coordinator, Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin, and really are very appreciative of the work that we are doing to prepare for the close coordination with our colleagues from Nay Pyi Taw. And I look forward to discussing with the ministers here next steps in response to and in support of the important reform efforts that Nay Pyi Taw is taking.

The United States has an enduring commitment to the Asia Pacific and the Obama Administration has elevated our engagement across Asia as a strategic priority of our foreign policy. A central pillar of that strategy is to work more closely with ASEAN, to deepen our economic, strategic, and people-to-people engagement. As Secretary of State, I’ve been a strong supporter of ASEAN and I understand that ASEAN faces a variety of challenges and even growing pains as it adapts and takes on new responsibilities. But I believe ASEAN plays an indispensible role in holding this region’s institutional architecture together and in advancing the common interests of all stakeholders in the Asia Pacific. The work that we are doing here today and over the next two days is a testament to that, and the United States has a stake in ASEAN’s success. The positions that ASEAN takes, the decisions it makes, and how it makes them will have a great bearing on the future effectiveness of ASEAN.

When I’m asked in my country why I put so much emphasis on ASEAN, I tell people that we work with ASEAN on the issues that are of central importance to the United States, from maritime security to nonproliferation to economic growth. We have more investment in ASEAN than we have in China. That is a surprising fact to many people in our country. And we are working cooperatively and collaboratively on opportunities and challenges in the Asia Pacific region, because we believe, like all of you, that so much of the future will be determined in this region. So we have sought to hear your concerns and priorities, to work with you to advance them, and to be a good partner. What we have heard from you is that ASEAN and the countries of the Asia Pacific are seeking greater American engagement across the board. But you are particularly focused on areas where our presence at times has been underweighted.

On the economic front, there is much more room for us still to grow together, so we are working to foster more economic activity in very tangible ways. This week, I’ve assembled and led the largest ever delegation of American business executives to Cambodia, and we will attend the first U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum on Friday in Siem Reap to lay the groundwork for economic connections and mutual prosperity for a long time to come.

On development assistance, frankly speaking, people in the region are asking us to put our money where our mouth is, to borrow an American phrase. So we’ve created an initiative to reform and reinvigorate our assistance programs to ASEAN. It’s called the Asia Pacific Strategic Engagement Initiative, or APSEI. APSEI seeks to align our resources with the priorities we are pursuing in partnership with the countries around this table.

We are focused on six pillars: regional security cooperation, economic integration and trade, engagement in the Lower Mekong region, transnational threats, democratic development, and war legacies. We’re working not only on a bilateral basis but also regionally in order to get the best possible results. This adds up to a robust, systematic assistance package that will secure sustained levels of American support for the things we all care most about. Later this week here at ASEAN and at the Regional Forum, I will offer a down payment on APSEI, and in the coming months we’ll be able to talk more about this initiative and its resources.

On disaster relief, this is something I care deeply about, and I know that you and your citizens do as well. Natural disasters are one of the most significant challenges to the stability, development, and prosperity of the ASEAN nations. From the tsunami in Aceh in 2004 to the floods in the Philippines and Thailand last year, the United States has been a committed first responder. And last year, President Obama announced a Rapid Disaster Response Agreement, which establishes a legal framework that will lead to more effective deliveries of supplies, service, and personnel. Laos and Singapore have already endorsed this agreement; we are close to concluding it with the Philippines; and I encourage other ASEAN members to review it.

And then there are people-to-people initiatives, and I have to say that the one request I hear consistently as I travel throughout Southeast Asia is that people in this region want more opportunities to interact with Americans and to visit America, particularly young people. And of course, young people are the majority of the people in the ASEAN nations. So I strongly support this outreach. And we have created a U.S.-ASEAN Young Leaders Summit to connect our next generation of leaders. This fall, the United States will welcome the first students to Hawaii under the Brunei-U.S. English language initiative. We have also created a pilot program for a new Fulbright-ASEAN exchange to deepen our educational ties.

Now, on this particular issue, I could go on and on. There has been a flourishing of programs and partnerships among our nations during the past few years, all designed to bring us and especially our people closer together. And they are possible because of the foundation we have laid in forums like this one.

So the United States is committed to our partnership, and we welcome the contributions of other ASEAN dialogue partners, and we are invested in the future peace, stability, and prosperity of this region. We look forward to many more collaborative activities with our partners in ASEAN for years to come. Thank you very much, Secretary del Rosario.

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Well finally the State Department has released details about Mme. Secretary’s current travel itinerary.  Here goes – it is extensive – just under two weeks.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 5, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will travel to France, Japan, Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Egypt and Israel departing Washington, D.C. on July 5.

In Paris on July 6, Secretary Clinton will attend the third meeting of the Friends of the Syrian People. At that meeting, the Secretary will consult with her colleagues on steps to increase pressure on the Assad regime and to support UN-Arab League Special Envoy Annan’s efforts to end the violence and facilitate a political transition to a post-Assad Syria. Secretary Clinton will consult with French leaders regarding next steps on Syria as well as on a number of other key areas of global concern. As part of her ongoing consultations with senior Palestinian and Israeli leaders, the Secretary will also meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss both parties’ efforts to pursue a dialogue and build on President Abbas’ exchange of letters with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Secretary will then travel to Tokyo to attend the July 8 Conference on Afghanistan, where she will reaffirm our enduring commitment to the Afghan people and join the international community in supporting Afghanistan’s development needs for the “transformation decade” to begin in 2015. As part of the mutual commitments made by the international community and Afghanistan at the Bonn conference last December, the Afghan Government in turn will lay out its plan for economic reform and continued steps toward good governance. She will also have discussions with Japanese Government counterparts on bilateral, regional, and global issues of mutual concern.

In Ulaanbaatar on July 9, Secretary Clinton will meet with President Elbegdorj and Prime Minister Batbold and address the meeting of the Governing Board of the Community of Democracies, as well as an international women’s conference.

In Hanoi on July 10, the Secretary will meet with senior Vietnamese leaders. She will witness the signing of several agreements covering education exchanges and commercial contracts and meet with representatives of U.S. and Vietnamese business communities.

Secretary Clinton will arrive in Vientiane on July 11. This groundbreaking visit to Laos marks the first by a Secretary of State in 57 years. The Secretary will meet with Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and other senior government officials to discuss a variety of bilateral and regional issues, including the Lower Mekong Initiative and ASEAN integration efforts.

Secretary Clinton will arrive in Phnom Penh on July 11 to participate in regional conferences, to both chair and attend ministerial events and to participate in bilateral meetings with Cambodian officials. Regional conferences include the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers Meeting, and the U.S.-ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference. Secretary Clinton will co-chair the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Ministerial as well as chair the Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting. Secretary Clinton will also participate in bilateral meetings with senior Cambodian leadership. After Phnom Penh, Secretary Clinton will travel to Siem Reap to lead the largest delegation of U.S. business representatives to Cambodia for an ASEAN event at the ‘Commitment to Connectivity – U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum.’ While in Siem Reap, Secretary Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the Lower Mekong Initiative Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Dialogue on July 13.

On July 14, Secretary Clinton will travel to Egypt to express the United States’ support for Egypt’s democratic transition and economic development. From July 15-16, she will meet with senior government officials, civil society, and business leaders, and inaugurate the U.S. Consulate General in Alexandria.

This will be followed by a stop in Israel on July 16-17, where she will be meeting with the Israeli leadership to discuss peace efforts and a range of regional and bilateral issues of mutual concern.

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