Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

As always, before departing, Mme. Secretary met with the staff and families of Embassy Singapore, and this time we have a few pictures!

Meeting With Embassy Singapore Staff and Their Families


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
St. Regis Hotel
November 17, 2012

AMBASSADOR ADELMAN: Well, Madam Secretary, you are in the presence of an all-star team. And that is really what we’re about here in the U.S. Embassy Singapore, and that is teamwork. We’ve got 19 U.S. Government agencies working hard every day. And you saw some of their good work over the last couple of days. U.S.-Singapore relations, as you know, have never been better, and that’s a result of the work of these extraordinarily talented people and their families, who have all served the public. And, if you don’t mind, I will add following in your good example.

I know they want to hear from you, and we sincerely hope you will have some time to greet some of the families individually.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely.

AMBASSADOR ADELMAN: So, once again, please join me in thanking our United States Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. Thank you, David. Thank you. Thank you all. Well, it is wonderful, being back here in Singapore, and having this chance to thank each and every one of you for the great contributions you are making to this important relationship. I want to thank the ambassador and Caroline and their entire family for representing our country so well, so enthusiastically, and so positively. And it is a special pleasure for me to thank you for what you’ve done to help make this trip of mine successful, and what you do every day to bring the people of our two countries closer together.

I have had excellent meetings here in Singapore. I just gave a speech about an hour-and-a-half ago at Singapore Management University about the nexus of economic power and global influence, and explaining what I call our economic statecraft agenda. I raised these issues in the meetings with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. And we couldn’t do what we are doing without all of you supporting American businesses, including the more than 2,000 who have their regional headquarters here. I was just out at the GE facility that does aircraft parts repair, and it was great to see what they are doing here in this region. And I also want to thank you for coordinating the efforts, as David was saying, of 19 agencies represented here. That’s a lot of coordination. From State and Defense to Commerce, Treasury, USDA, and so much more.

But that represents the depth and breadth of our relationship. And this embassy has led the way with regional trade missions to Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, most recently Burma, that ended with at least five American companies either opening an office or landing a sale there. And I am proud to say that today U.S. exports to Singapore are at an all-time high, as are American investments. That’s a testament to the ambassador’s leadership and the talent and energy of so many of you in this room.

I know you’re also reaching out to the community, helping to clean up one of Singapore’s beautiful beaches, volunteering at the Special Olympics or the Ronald McDonald House, serving meals at a retirement home, building connections which, after all, are the base of any strong relationship. That is every bit as important as security and economics for the long run.

I also want to thank all the family members who are here today. I know that there is a lot of you who are far from home. But I am glad that you are part of this team. Some of you have served unaccompanied time in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, which I greatly appreciate. The President and I are very grateful for what you do.

I also want to take a moment to recognize our locally-engaged staff. Could all of our Singaporean staff raise your hands so we can thank you for what you do every single day? (Applause.) I want to congratulate your FSN of the Year, Susan Mok. (Applause.) And there are 3 staff members — I did a double-take when I saw this number — there are 3 staff members who, between them, have put in a combined 120 years of service at this post. (Applause.) Now, they all started when they were in kindergarten. (Laughter.) But let me thank Yahya Rahmat, Amy Ho, and Helen Jen. (Applause.) Because I know very well that ambassadors come and go, and secretaries come and go, but our locally-employed staff provide the continuity, the memory bank that keeps our mission going year after year.

So, it is wonderful for me to be able to come and take this chance to celebrate and thank you for all you’re accomplishing on behalf of the American people and this critical relationship. And now I’m going to shake as many hands as I can, and thank you personally for the great job you are doing. Thank you all. (Applause.)

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On her second day in Singapore,  Secretary Clinton visited  Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.

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In Singapore, earlier today,  Mme. Secretary, accompanied by Stuart Dean, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of General Electric ASEAN, toured a General Electric aviation facility.

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Delivering on the Promise of Economic Statecraft


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Singapore Management University
November 17, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, thank you very much. Thank you, President De Meyer, for welcoming all of us here to SMU. Thank you, Ambassador Adelman, for your exemplary service here in Singapore, strengthening and deepening the already very strong relationship between our two countries. Thank you also for the Minister of State and the Minister for Education and the Speaker of the Parliament for being here with us. And thanks to the American Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. ASEAN business council for helping to cosponsor this event.It has been three years since I was last here with President Obama, when we came for our first APEC meeting. And that trip helped launch what has been called our pivot to the Asia Pacific. As Secretary of State, I have visited the region many times. And I was just in Australia with Secretary of Defense Panetta for our annual AUSMIN consultations with our Australian counterparts. Tomorrow I will join President Obama in Thailand. And then we will go together to Burma and on to Cambodia for the East Asia Summit.

Now, I think one of the questions that may be on your and others’ minds is: “Why is the American President spending all this time in Asia so soon after winning re-election?” Well, the answer for us is very simple. Because so much of the history of the 21st century will be, is being, written in this region. America’s expanded engagement represents our commitment to help shape that shared future. The strategic and security dimensions of our efforts are well known. But the untold story that is just as important is our economic engagement. Because it is clear that not only in the Asia Pacific but across the world, increasingly, economics are shaping the strategic landscape. Emerging powers are putting economics at the center of their foreign policies, and they are gaining clout less because of their size of their armies than because of the growth of their GDP.

For the first time in modern history, nations are becoming major global powers without also becoming global military powers. So, to maintain our strategic leadership in the region, the United States is also strengthening our economic leadership. And we know very well that America’s economic strength at home and our leadership around the world are a package deal. Each reinforces and requires the other.

I must say this is a lesson that Singapore learned long ago. Today the non-stop flow of people, goods, and capital through this small nation is proof that a country does not need to be big to be mighty, to be respected, to be a real leader. Every country wants to do business in Singapore, so every country has a stake in cultivating good relationships with Singapore. With only 1/60 of the population of the United States, Singapore is our 15th largest trading partner. More than 2,000 American companies base their regional headquarters here. Two-way trade exceeded $50 billion for the first time last year. And U.S. direct investment surpassed $116 billion over the last decade. That makes Singapore’s security and stability a vital interest for the United States. This connection between economic power and global influence explains why the United States is placing economics at the heart of our own foreign policy. I call it economic statecraft.

Now, these ideas are hardly new. After all, it was Harry Truman who said our relations, foreign and economic, are indivisible. But today that carries renewed urgency. Last year I laid out America’s economic statecraft agenda in a series of speeches in Washington, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and New York. Since then, we have turned this vision into action in four key areas: first, updating our foreign policy priorities to take economics more into account; second, turning to economic solutions for strategic challenges; third, stepping up commercial diplomacy — what I like to call jobs diplomacy — to boost U.S. exports, open new markets, and level the playing field for our businesses; and fourth, building the diplomatic capacity to execute this ambitious agenda.

In short, we are shaping our foreign policy to account for both the economics of power and the power of economics. The first and most fundamental task is to update our foreign policy and its priorities for a changing world. For the last decade, as you know, the United States focused enormous time, resources, and attention on a war in Iraq that is now over, and a war in Afghanistan that is winding down. Responding to threats will, of course, always be central to our foreign policy. But it cannot be our foreign policy. America has to seize opportunities that will shore up our strength for years to come. That means following through on our intensified engagement in the Asia Pacific and elevating the role of economics in our work around the world.

Here in Asia the United States is taking concrete steps to protect and update an open, free, transparent, and fair economic system that has made the region’s spectacular growth possible. Through APEC and ASEAN, we are working with partners like Singapore to improve regulatory standards, harmonize customs procedures, and reduce trade barriers. We’ve ratified a free trade agreement with the Republic of Korea that will improve competitiveness and transparency, while boosting American exports by as much as $10 billion a year. In negotiations with China and India on bilateral investment treaties, we are seeking a level playing field between American companies and their competitors, including state-owned enterprises.

And with Singapore and a growing list of other countries on both sides of the Pacific, we are making progress toward finalizing a far-reaching new trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The so-called TPP will lower barriers, raise standards, and drive long-term growth across the region. It will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and establish strong protections for workers and the environment. Better jobs with higher wages and safer working conditions, including for women, migrant workers and others too often in the past excluded from the formal economy will help build Asia’s middle class and rebalance the global economy. Canada and Mexico have already joined the original TPP partners. We continue to consult with Japan. And we are offering to assist with capacity building, so that every country in ASEAN can eventually join. We welcome the interest of any nation willing to meet 21st century standards as embodied in the TPP, including China.

The United States is also moving economics to the center of our agenda elsewhere in the world. For example, we want to improve our economic partnership with our allies in Europe. That is every bit as compelling to us as our security partnership through the NATO alliance. So, to that end, we are exploring negotiations with the European Union for a comprehensive economic agreement that would increase trade and spur growth on both sides of the Atlantic.

Africa. Africa is currently home to 7 of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies. I deliberately said that slowly because so many people look surprised when I say it. And so, we are changing the way we do business with Africa. Certainly regarding our development agenda, but also trying to do more to harness market forces and private-sector solutions for these growing African economies.

In Latin America, which remains the destination for 40 percent of all U.S. exports, we have ratified free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama, and we have begun discussions with a new group called the Alliance of the Pacific, formed by Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and Chile to expand their competitiveness in the global marketplace.

Now, our next step will be to transform these regional efforts — the TPP, the EU agreement, our bilateral trade deals — into a truly global vision. In the same way that the general agreement on trade and tariffs offered a global blueprint following World War II, we need new arrangements to take on the challenges that inhibit trade today, from non-tariff barriers to preferential treatment for state-owned enterprises.

As we do more to define our foreign policy priorities in economic terms, we also need to update the tools we use. So our second main area of action is finding ways to tap economic solutions for strategic challenges. Just look at what’s happening now in Burma. The cost of economic sanctions and the benefits of rejoining the global economy helped spur the government to begin opening up. And we are very grateful to the wise counsel we received from Singapore along the way. The United States is responding not just with growing diplomatic engagement, but also with new economic ties that we believe will help encourage further political and market reforms, and thereby improve stability over time.

This July more than 70 executives from 38 leading U.S. companies visited as part of the U.S.-ASEAN business council delegation. And I understand that the American Chamber of Commerce here in Singapore led a similar trip in August. The United States is also supporting World Bank programs that will provide more than $80 million for infrastructure projects in the country’s townships, and financial support for small businesses.

Burma is part of a region where progress has been slowed by insecurity and mistrust. But it doesn’t have to be that way. As Burma opens up and establishes new ties to its neighbors, it could become a commercial hub linking markets in India and Bangladesh with Southeast Asia. An Indo-Pacific economic corridor powered by new energy and transportation infrastructure and fewer trade barriers could create jobs and help lift millions out of poverty. It could also promote stability and drive cooperation on shared challenges like narcotics and human trafficking, refugees, and natural disasters.

Now, this all might sound ambitious. And, I confess, it is. But we cannot shy away from big goals. The post-World War II generation that built the modern global order and established institutions and agreements that fostered unprecedented security and prosperity are really the examples we should be following, in those footsteps, thinking bigger, working harder to create the arrangements that will give us another 100 years of security and prosperity.

The same goes for another regional vision we call the New Silk Road, a web of trade and transportation links reaching from the steps of Central Asia to the southern tip of India. Forging stronger economic ties across this region is a key element in our long-term strategy for Afghanistan. If you look at the map, you see why Afghanistan has been fought over and part of the great game for so many generations because of its very strategic position right in the middle of this trading route.

So, even as we move forward with the security transition under NATO ISAF in 2014, and the end of our coalition combat mission, we are focused on shoring up Afghanistan’s economic future, because we know that, without that, stability and security will certainly be elusive. This is a point that has too often been missed in serious foreign policy debates. The long, hard work of economic development may not be glamorous, but it is essential, even in war zones. And certainly the increasing economic relationship between India and Pakistan is good news, first and foremost for the Pakistani and Indian business people and consumers, but more generally with the hope that those kinds of ties can lead to even greater cooperation in the future.

We are also using new economic tools to address one of the world’s preeminent security challenges: Iran. A broad coalition is revolutionizing how the international community enforces sanctions and builds pressure. We went after Iran’s central bank and finance sector, and we reached out to private insurers, shippers, oil companies, and financial institutions to help us target pressure points that make it harder for companies and governments to do business with Iran.

Now we see results. Every major importer of Iranian oil has lowered their consumption. All 27 nations of the European Union have joined a boycott. In one year, Iran’s oil exports are down by more than one million barrels a day, costing the Iranian Government at least $3 billion each month. And, in fact, because of increased production in other places in the world, we have not seen the spike in oil prices that so many people feared and predicted.

Now, regimes in places like Tehran and Pyongyang, that violate international norms and beggar their people in pursuit of greater military strength pose a stark contrast with emerging economic powers that are delivering benefits for their people.

The example of Iran also illustrates how powerful economic tools can be when we apply them both creatively and collectively. The Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah, the Haqqani network, and others, are all vulnerable to sophisticated and meticulous market pressure. Someone has said that the threats we face are perhaps enhanced because of how interconnected we are in the world because of globalization. But so are the responses. And we have to be smarter about how we identify and use them through international cooperation, robust coalitions, and determined diplomacy.

The third major area of focus for economic statecraft is commercial diplomacy that boosts U.S. exports, opens new markets, and levels the playing field for American businesses. Let me hasten to say this is not just about American prosperity. Although, as you might guess, as the American Secretary of State, that ranks very high on my list of priorities. That is always our goal. But this is about finding more opportunities for all of us to prosper together. It’s about helping the next wave of emerging economies achieve the same kind of growth that Singapore has enjoyed. It’s about rebalancing the global economy so Americans export more, Asians import more, and we avoid financial crises and build middle classes.

So, the United States is stepping up our game, using our network of more than 270 embassies and consulates to advocate for American firms, and help achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports in 5 years. With 95 percent of the world’s customers living beyond our own borders, this has become an economic imperative. So our diplomats are working to make it easier for U.S. businesses to find answers and get advice about navigating markets. We’re helping them connect with foreign partners and compete for contracts. And whenever a U.S. Government official travels overseas now, we try to include business events on our schedules. In fact, later today I will visit a General Electric aviation facility here in Singapore.

We are sending more trade missions, like the one I mentioned to Burma. And this summer I led the first delegation of American CEOs to the U.S.-ASEAN Business Forum in Cambodia. Three heads of state and more than a dozen key ministers were eager to engage with them. Back in Washington, we have convened conferences bringing together business leaders and government officials from more than 100 countries. We’re proud to go to bat for the Boeings and Chevrons and General Motors and so many others. But we’re also working to help industries large and small that have not been traditional exporters. Ultimately, this effort is more than hooking a big fish here and there. We want every company — American, Singaporean, or any other — to have that level playing field and a chance to compete on the merits. That is a recipe for shared prosperity.

Yet in too many places businesses trying to break into markets face resistance, including trade barriers that are going up not along national borders, but behind them. And these obstacles stem from political choices, not market forces. And it will take serious and sustained diplomacy to address them. Wherever companies face discrimination, the United States will stand up for the rules of an open, free, transparent, and fair economic system, and we expect all like-minded economies to share that responsibility.

Now, recently we saw a break-through when India retooled its policy on foreign direct investment. Their old rules barred companies that carry multiple brands in one store — like Wal-Mart, Target, and Costco, or similar foreign companies — from doing retail business in the Indian market. That limited competition. But, more than that, it prevented the kind of knowledge transfer and supply chain modernization that India needs. So we and — I should note — other countries, as well, raised this issue with India’s leaders at the highest level for years. And we are pleased that Delhi has now agreed to loosen its restrictions.

But to take advantage of a more level playing field, American businesses must step up, too. Here in Singapore, U.S. firms operate on every corner. But elsewhere, too many are sitting on the sidelines. I hear it over and over when I travel: “Where are the American businesses?” And at a time when America’s domestic growth depends more than ever on our ability to compete internationally, this has to change. And when U.S. businesses do compete, we want to work with them to make sure their suppliers at every link in the chain are meeting international standards like labor rights, intellectual property, and environmental impact.

And, finally, a level playing field means lowering the barriers that keep women from fully participating in the global economy. You knew I would get to that, didn’t you? Mountains of evidence make this so abundantly clear. No nation can achieve the kind of growth that we all want and need if half the population never gets to compete. And we cannot afford any longer to exclude the energy and talent that women add to our economies.

The World Bank has done some ground-breaking research on this, pointing out what it would mean to tear down the barriers, some of them still very explicit. There are countries that deny women credit, there are countries that prevent women from opening businesses or running them without male fronts. There are countries that prevent women from inheriting businesses. There are so many still existing legal barriers. And then, of course, there are the attitudinal and cultural barriers that are somewhat less obvious, but no less difficult. And in the World Bank’s research, tearing down all those obstacles would raise GDP everywhere in the world, including in my own country. In my own country it would be by nine percent.

So, think about what this would mean in a time where we are still facing global economic problems. And so I always say that we’ve got to do more, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because we cannot afford not to do it.

The fourth and final area we are focused on is making sure America’s diplomats and development experts have all the skills and support they need to actually implement economic statecraft. So, we are focused on recruiting, retaining, and rewarding the most talented people we can find. I appointed the State Department’s first-ever chief economist. And I combined our work on energy, the environment, and economics under a single under secretary position to maximize synergy and cooperation. We are ramping up our training curriculum for economic officers, and developing new tools and incentives to help them do their jobs. Now, these kinds of changes unfold over years, but they show a commitment to match our practices to our priorities. And they will help hard-wire economic statecraft into American foreign policy.

Now, let me offer three quick examples that really show the intersection of economics and security. Let’s start with cyber theft. Now, most countries outlaw breaking into the headquarters of a company to steal proprietary information. Yet when it comes to cyber theft of that same material, many look the other way or even encourage it. This is more than just bad international behavior. It is bad economics. If we set a precedent that cyber theft is acceptable, everyone will eventually suffer. So I named the State Department’s first coordinator for cyber issues, and we are advancing concerted strategies to address these really legitimate and troubling concerns.

Next, on energy. We know energy can be a source of healthy competition, with countries racing to develop new technologies and renewables. But it can also be a source of conflict, fueling corruption and instability. And how the world uses energy is a key factor as to whether we will finally address the threat of climate change. So we have created at the State Department a new Bureau of Energy Resources, and made this issue a priority in our diplomacy.

And finally, the resurgence of state capitalism: a challenge at once economic and strategic. Now, state-owned or state-supported enterprises are not necessarily problematic in all cases. But they do often lack the transparency and accountability that come with private boards and investors. And then, diplomatic challenges arise when states abuse their economic advantage to bully their neighbors or box out competitors, like when we see countries cut off gas flows in the middle of winter over a political disagreement. So, the State Department, working with seven other U.S. Government agencies, launched a comprehensive study on state capitalism. And in the coming weeks, we should see a final report with detailed recommendations for how we engage on the challenges posed.

Now, let me add that many of the questions that I have discussed today about the relationship between strategic and economic issues deserve deeper study. Perhaps, President De Meyer, at this institution. Almost a new foreign policy discipline. And I hope scholars at think tanks and universities will help us explore the implications and design more effective responses.

The ambitious agenda we’ve been working on, and that I have described to you today, will require a sustained commitment from secretary to secretary, from president to president. And the United States has to keep asking tough questions of ourselves and our partners around the world. We need to form coalitions of like-minded nations that deal in the changing dynamics of power and influence. And, as economic strength and global power converge, all countries need to think about the way their domestic decisions reverberate on the international stage. And that is especially true in my own country.

When I was traveling through Asia last summer, during the height of the debate over the debt ceiling back home, leaders from across the region pulled me aside to ask if the U.S. Congress would actually allow America to default on our debt. Let’s be clear. The full faith and credit of the United States should never be in question. Today, as Washington gears up for another round of budget negotiations, I am again hearing concerns about the global implications of America’s economic choices. Now, I am out of politics, but let me assure you that, for all the differences between the political parties in my country, we are united in our commitment to protect American leadership and bolster our national security. Reaching a meaningful budget deal is critical to both. It will shore up our ability to project economic power around the globe, strengthen our position in the competition of ideas, shaping the global marketplace, and remind all nations that we remain a steady and dependable partner. For us, this is a moment, once again, to prove the resilience of our economic system, and reaffirm America’s leadership in the world.

As Ambassador Adelman said, “I’ve been in the business of advancing American leadership for a long time now. I’ve seen the ups and downs firsthand, our greatest triumphs and our wrenching heartbreaks. And through it all, I’ve only grown more convinced that our global leadership depends on our economic strength, and more confident that the United States has what it takes to keep leading in the 21st century.”

This much is clear: the future belongs to those who can anticipate opportunities, who follow the trend lines, not just the headlines, countries like Singapore, which transformed itself into an Asian tiger in the decades after independence, and continues to innovate and excel. Global leadership is not a birthright. Not a birthright for the United States or any nation. It must be constantly tended and earned anew. Americans’ ability, however, to reinvent ourselves has been a national strength since the first settlers arrived in search of new shores and new opportunities. It is part of our DNA. It is part of who we are, as Americans. And I know the United States will rise, as we always have, to meet the challenges of this new international landscape, firm in our purpose, innovative in our approach, and unwavering in our determination to succeed. And we look forward to a future of peace and prosperity and opportunity for all. Thank you. (Applause.)

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Public Schedule for November 17, 2012

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
November 17, 2012




Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel to Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia. In Australia she joined 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 Singapore she will meet with senior government officials, including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Foreign Minister Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam. She will join President Obama in Thailand 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 also accompany President Obama to Burma 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, as well as to Cambodia to accompany the President at the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting and the East Asia Summit.

Secretary Clinton is accompanied by Assistant Secretary Campbell, Director Sullivan, and VADM Harry B. Harris, Jr., JCS. Please click here for more information.

9:00 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong, in Singapore.

10:30 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers remarks on “Delivering on the Promise of Economic Statecraft,” in Singapore.

11:30 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton visits the GE Aviation Facility, in Singapore.

12:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with the staff and families of Embassy Singapore, in Singapore.

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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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Regarding Significant Reductions of Iranian Crude Oil Purchases

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 28, 2012

Today I have made the determination that two additional countries, China and Singapore, have significantly reduced their volume of crude oil purchases from Iran. As a result, I will report to the Congress that sanctions pursuant to Section 1245(d)(1) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 will not apply to their financial institutions for a potentially renewable period of 180 days.

A total of 20 world economies have now qualified for such an exception. Their cumulative actions are a clear demonstration to Iran’s government that Iran’s continued violation of its international nuclear obligations carries an enormous economic cost. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), Iran’s crude oil exports in 2011 were approximately 2.5 million barrels per day, and have dropped to roughly 1.5 million barrels per day, which in real terms means almost $8 billion in lost revenues every quarter. When the European Union oil embargo goes into effect July 1, Iran’s leaders will understand even more fully the urgency of the choice they face and the unity of the international community.

Today marks an important milestone in the implementation of the NDAA and U.S. sanctions toward Iran. Following the President’s determinations on March 30 and June 11 on the availability of non-Iranian supplies of oil, as of today, any foreign financial institution based in a country that has not received an NDAA exception is subject to U.S. sanctions if it knowingly conducts a significant transaction with the Central Bank of Iran for the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products to or from Iran.

We have been clear all along that there is a path for Iran to fully re-join the global economy. Iran’s leaders have the opportunity to address international concerns by engaging seriously and substantively in negotiations with the P5+1. I urge Iran to demonstrate its willingness to take concrete steps toward resolving the nuclear issue during the expert-level talks scheduled in Istanbul on July 3. Failure to do so will result in continuing pressure and isolation from the international community.

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02/01/2012 04:53 PM EST


Remarks With Singaporean Foreign Minister and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
February 1, 2012

MODERATOR: The United States-Singapore joint vision statement on new political framework.(The document was signed.)

MODERATOR: The Secretary of State and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Law of the Republic of Singapore are now signing the memorandum of understanding between the United States of America and the Republic of Singapore on the United States-Singapore Third Country Training Program.

(The document was signed.)

MODERATOR: The Secretary of State and the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law of the Republic of Singapore are now signing the memorandum of understanding between the United States of America and the Republic of Singapore on the establishment of an institutionalized strategic dialogue.

(The document was signed.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me say how delighted I am to welcome the foreign minister here to the State Department. He obviously has been to the United States numerous times before, but this is his first visit as foreign minister, so we are pleased to welcome him back.

This is a very consequential relationship. The multidimensional growth of our relationship with Singapore is an example of the importance that the United States sets on strengthening our engagement in the Asia Pacific. We are working together on a full range of issues, including moving forward on a high-quality trade agreement through the Trans-Pacific Partnership process.

We are partnering to increase maritime security cooperation by upholding the rule of law, fighting the scourge of piracy, and ensuring freedom of navigation. Because of our commitment to ASEAN, we are working to increase regional trade and economic integration, and through APEC, we have worked to spur the growth of small and medium-sized businesses. Our people work side by side to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to help Afghanistan rebuild.

At the ASEAN forum last year, the minister and I agreed to further deepen our relationship, and today we are taking steps to do just that by signing three documents that highlight the importance that we place on our partnership.

The first is a joint vision statement that articulates shared beliefs and goals, a mutual commitment to security, prosperity, protecting diversity, and the rule of law. These are values that both Americans and Singaporeans cherish.

Next, we signed a memorandum of understanding that represents concrete progress in implementing our joint vision. We will be sending development experts from the United States and Singapore to countries in the Lower Mekong area. They will team up to give health workers the tools they need to fight infectious disease, to help improve trade capacity, work to boost tourism, share best practices with teachers, humanitarian, and disaster relief workers, police and firefighters. We also discussed other ways that we could pursue third country training to help with the public administration and the civil service of countries.

And finally, we signed a memorandum of understanding that institutionalizes a U.S.-Singapore strategic partners dialogue between senior officials from both governments to meet annually under this framework to review our bilateral agenda as well as our regional and global cooperation.

So again, I am delighted to welcome the minister and to thank him and to thank his government for being such a valuable partner and such a leader on so many important issues of the 21st century.

FOREIGN MINISTER SHANMAGUAM: Thank you, Madam Secretary. I think our relationship is very strong. It’s broad-based. It’s deep. The joint vision statement sets that out. I’m not going to repeat everything that Madam Secretary has just said. It’s my first visit as foreign minister. We have had very substantive, good, useful discussions. And our senior officials met last week, and they also had excellent discussions. And I look forward to continuing the relationship that we have had for a very long period of time, our two countries, on a broad array of fronts. Thank you.

MODERATOR: We have time for two questions today. The first one, CNN, Elise Labott.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Firstly, if – could you tell us what you think about this recent ISAF report that details from Taliban detainees cooperation between the Taliban and Pakistan?

And then also – realize that today the UN Security Council will be discussing the resolution on Syria. Yesterday, the Russian ambassador, after hearing your comments, said that the UN Security Council can’t endorse the Arab League plan in a resolution. If the Russians will refuse to endorse the Arab League plan as you’re calling for, do they bear responsibility for the continued bloodshed there?


SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with respect to the confidential document that you’re referring to, Elise, I am obviously not going to be commenting on it. I think that there have already been comments that there’s nothing new in what has been released, but I’m not going to go into it in any depth.

With respect to Syria and the attitude of Russia, we recognize that getting the Security Council to act will require continuing consultations with our partners in the council, including Russia and China, on what the wording of a resolution will be. And I look forward to discussing this with my counterparts at the ministerial level as we go through that discussion.

But I think yesterday’s meeting certainly highlighted the importance of the Security Council acting and the importance of supporting the Arab League. The Arab League has set forth a roadmap as to how we can, working together through the international community in support of the Arab League, help to end the bloodshed and help to begin a peaceful political process that will result in a more democratic future for the people of Syria. The Syrian people themselves are the ones who are crying out for peace and justice, for dignity, for their rights, for a better future.

And every member of the council has to make a decision: Whose side are you on? Are you on the side of the Syrian people? Are you on the side of the Arab League? Are you on the side of the people of the Middle East and North Africa who have, during this past year, spoken out courageously and often for their rights? Or are you on the side of a brutal dictatorial regime? Each country will have to be mulling that over and making a decision, but certainly, from my perspective, as members of the Security Council charged with the responsibility of trying to help keep international peace and security, it is absolutely imperative that we all be on the right side of history. And that means standing with the Arab League and standing with the people of Syria.

MODERATOR: Last one, (inaudible).

QUESTION: Thank you. Two quick questions for Madam Secretary and the minister: First, how do the new projects that were announced today fit in with the broader U.S. pivot to Asia? And second, are there plans to elevate the strategic dialogue to a political level involving leaders from both countries? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you want to begin?

FOREIGN MINISTER SHANMAGUAM: Yeah, sure. When you talk about the U.S. pivot to Asia, U.S. has always been in Asia, has played a very significant role. And we welcome that continued and even more intense focus that has been given in the last few years. So – and we welcome a very substantive engagement on economic, as well as political, as well as military engagement. And we, for example, 20 years ago, offered the use of our facilities to the U.S. And the SFA was signed in 2005, and our current engagement continues within that framework. So we believe that the U.S. engagement in Asia has been a pillar, the foundation, for peace and prosperity in the region. And therefore, we welcome that. And our discussions today are a continuation of that process.

As to whether our strategic partnership dialogue will include political leadership, we have regular ongoing discussions within political leaders at the highest levels, and that will obviously continue.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I can only agree with the minister’s comment. When you look at the free trade agreement and our military-to-military strategic framework agreement, those are two very strong pillars of our relationship. By adding this formal declaration of a strategic partners dialogue, we are tying it all together, because we have found, over the years in our very excellent relationship, that there is much for us to discuss. We look to Singapore not only on a bilateral level but also regionally and globally. And we often are very interested in what Singapore has to say about political issues as well as strategic considerations. So I think the U.S.-Singapore relationship is both broad and deep, and it will only continue to strengthen in the years ahead.

Thank you.



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America’s Pacific Century


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Foreign Policy Magazine
October 11, 2011


The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action.

As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment — diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise — in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia-Pacific has become a key driver of global politics. Stretching from the Indian subcontinent to the western shores of the Americas, the region spans two oceans — the Pacific and the Indian — that are increasingly linked by shipping and strategy. It boasts almost half the world’s population. It includes many of the key engines of the global economy, as well as the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. It is home to several of our key allies and important emerging powers like China, India, and Indonesia.

At a time when the region is building a more mature security and economic architecture to promote stability and prosperity, U.S. commitment there is essential. It will help build that architecture and pay dividends for continued American leadership well into this century, just as our post-World War II commitment to building a comprehensive and lasting transatlantic network of institutions and relationships has paid off many times over — and continues to do so. The time has come for the United States to make similar investments as a Pacific power, a strategic course set by President Barack Obama from the outset of his administration and one that is already yielding benefits.

With Iraq and Afghanistan still in transition and serious economic challenges in our own country, there are those on the American political scene who are calling for us not to reposition, but to come home. They seek a downsizing of our foreign engagement in favor of our pressing domestic priorities. These impulses are understandable, but they are misguided. Those who say that we can no longer afford to engage with the world have it exactly backward — we cannot afford not to. From opening new markets for American businesses to curbing nuclear proliferation to keeping the sea lanes free for commerce and navigation, our work abroad holds the key to our prosperity and security at home. For more than six decades, the United States has resisted the gravitational pull of these “come home” debates and the implicit zero-sum logic of these arguments. We must do so again.

Beyond our borders, people are also wondering about America’s intentions — our willingness to remain engaged and to lead. In Asia, they ask whether we are really there to stay, whether we are likely to be distracted again by events elsewhere, whether we can make — and keep — credible economic and strategic commitments, and whether we can back those commitments with action. The answer is: We can, and we will.

Harnessing Asia’s growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests and a key priority for President Obama. Open markets in Asia provide the United States with unprecedented opportunities for investment, trade, and access to cutting-edge technology. Our economic recovery at home will depend on exports and the ability of American firms to tap into the vast and growing consumer base of Asia. Strategically, maintaining peace and security across the Asia-Pacific is increasingly crucial to global progress, whether through defending freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, countering the proliferation efforts of North Korea, or ensuring transparency in the military activities of the region’s key players.

Just as Asia is critical to America’s future, an engaged America is vital to Asia’s future. The region is eager for our leadership and our business — perhaps more so than at any time in modern history. We are the only power with a network of strong alliances in the region, no territorial ambitions, and a long record of providing for the common good. Along with our allies, we have underwritten regional security for decades — patrolling Asia’s sea lanes and preserving stability — and that in turn has helped create the conditions for growth. We have helped integrate billions of people across the region into the global economy by spurring economic productivity, social empowerment, and greater people-to-people links. We are a major trade and investment partner, a source of innovation that benefits workers and businesses on both sides of the Pacific, a host to 350,000 Asian students every year, a champion of open markets, and an advocate for universal human rights.

President Obama has led a multifaceted and persistent effort to embrace fully our irreplaceable role in the Pacific, spanning the entire U.S. Government. It has often been a quiet effort. A lot of our work has not been on the front pages, both because of its nature — long-term investment is less exciting than immediate crises — and because of competing headlines in other parts of the world.

As Secretary of State, I broke with tradition and embarked on my first official overseas trip to Asia. In my seven trips since, I have had the privilege to see firsthand the rapid transformations taking place in the region, underscoring how much the future of the United States is intimately intertwined with the future of the Asia-Pacific. A strategic turn to the region fits logically into our overall global effort to secure and sustain America’s global leadership. The success of this turn requires maintaining and advancing a bipartisan consensus on the importance of the Asia-Pacific to our national interests; we seek to build upon a strong tradition of engagement by presidents and secretaries of state of both parties across many decades. It also requires smart execution of a coherent regional strategy that accounts for the global implications of our choices.

What does that regional strategy look like? For starters, it calls for a sustained commitment to what I have called “forward-deployed” diplomacy. That means continuing to dispatch the full range of our diplomatic assets — including our highest-ranking officials, our development experts, our interagency teams, and our permanent assets — to every country and corner of the Asia-Pacific region. Our strategy will have to keep accounting for and adapting to the rapid and dramatic shifts playing out across Asia. With this in mind, our work will proceed along six key lines of action: strengthening bilateral security alliances; deepening our working relationships with emerging powers, including with China; engaging with regional multilateral institutions; expanding trade and investment; forging a broad-based military presence; and advancing democracy and human rights.

By virtue of our unique geography, the United States is both an Atlantic and a Pacific power. We are proud of our European partnerships and all that they deliver. Our challenge now is to build a web of partnerships and institutions across the Pacific that is as durable and as consistent with American interests and values as the web we have built across the Atlantic. That is the touchstone of our efforts in all these areas.

Our treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand are the fulcrum for our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific. They have underwritten regional peace and security for more than half a century, shaping the environment for the region’s remarkable economic ascent. They leverage our regional presence and enhance our regional leadership at a time of evolving security challenges.

As successful as these alliances have been, we can’t afford simply to sustain them — we need to update them for a changing world. In this effort, the Obama Administration is guided by three core principles. First, we have to maintain political consensus on the core objectives of our alliances. Second, we have to ensure that our alliances are nimble and adaptive so that they can successfully address new challenges and seize new opportunities. Third, we have to guarantee that the defense capabilities and communications infrastructure of our alliances are operationally and materially capable of deterring provocation from the full spectrum of state and nonstate actors.

The alliance with Japan, the cornerstone of peace and stability in the region, demonstrates how the Obama Administration is giving these principles life. We share a common vision of a stable regional order with clear rules of the road — from freedom of navigation to open markets and fair competition. We have agreed to a new arrangement, including a contribution from the Japanese Government of more than $5 billion, to ensure the continued enduring presence of American forces in Japan, while expanding joint intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities to deter and react quickly to regional security challenges, as well as information sharing to address cyberthreats. We have concluded an Open Skies Agreement that will enhance access for businesses and people-to-people ties, launched a strategic dialogue on the Asia-Pacific, and been working hand in hand as the two largest donor countries in Afghanistan.

Similarly, our alliance with South Korea has become stronger and more operationally integrated, and we continue to develop our combined capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean provocations. We have agreed on a plan to ensure successful transition of operational control during wartime and anticipate successful passage of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. And our alliance has gone global, through our work together in the G-20 and the Nuclear Security Summit and through our common efforts in Haiti and Afghanistan.

We are also expanding our alliance with Australia from a Pacific partnership to an Indo-Pacific one, and indeed a global partnership. From cybersecurity to Afghanistan to the Arab Awakening to strengthening regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific, Australia’s counsel and commitment have been indispensable. And in Southeast Asia, we are renewing and strengthening our alliances with the Philippines and Thailand, increasing, for example, the number of ship visits to the Philippines and working to ensure the successful training of Filipino counterterrorism forces through our Joint Special Operations Task Force in Mindanao. In Thailand — our oldest treaty partner in Asia — we are working to establish a hub of regional humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the region.

As we update our alliances for new demands, we are also building new partnerships to help solve shared problems. Our outreach to China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Malaysia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Brunei, and the Pacific Island countries is all part of a broader effort to ensure a more comprehensive approach to American strategy and engagement in the region. We are asking these emerging partners to join us in shaping and participating in a rules-based regional and global order.

One of the most prominent of these emerging partners is, of course, China. Like so many other countries before it, China has prospered as part of the open and rules-based system that the United States helped to build and works to sustain. And today, China represents one of the most challenging and consequential bilateral relationships the United States has ever had to manage. This calls for careful, steady, dynamic stewardship, an approach to China on our part that is grounded in reality, focused on results, and true to our principles and interests.

We all know that fears and misperceptions linger on both sides of the Pacific. Some in our country see China’s progress as a threat to the United States; some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China’s growth. We reject both those views. The fact is that a thriving America is good for China and a thriving China is good for America. We both have much more to gain from cooperation than from conflict. But you cannot build a relationship on aspirations alone. It is up to both of us to more consistently translate positive words into effective cooperation — and, crucially, to meet our respective global responsibilities and obligations. These are the things that will determine whether our relationship delivers on its potential in the years to come. We also have to be honest about our differences. We will address them firmly and decisively as we pursue the urgent work we have to do together. And we have to avoid unrealistic expectations.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, one of my top priorities has been to identify and expand areas of common interest, to work with China to build mutual trust, and to encourage China’s active efforts in global problem-solving. This is why Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and I launched the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the most intensive and expansive talks ever between our governments, bringing together dozens of agencies from both sides to discuss our most pressing bilateral issues, from security to energy to human rights.

We are also working to increase transparency and reduce the risk of miscalculation or miscues between our militaries. The United States and the international community have watched China’s efforts to modernize and expand its military, and we have sought clarity as to its intentions. Both sides would benefit from sustained and substantive military-to-military engagement that increases transparency. So we look to Beijing to overcome its reluctance at times and join us in forging a durable military-to-military dialogue. And we need to work together to strengthen the Strategic Security Dialogue, which brings together military and civilian leaders to discuss sensitive issues like maritime security and cybersecurity.

As we build trust together, we are committed to working with China to address critical regional and global security issues. This is why I have met so frequently — often in informal settings — with my Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, for candid discussions about important challenges like North Korea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, and developments in the South China Sea.

On the economic front, the United States and China need to work together to ensure strong, sustained, and balanced future global growth. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the United States and China worked effectively through the G-20 to help pull the global economy back from the brink. We have to build on that cooperation. U.S. firms want fair opportunities to export to China’s growing markets, which can be important sources of jobs here in the United States, as well as assurances that the $50 billion of American capital invested in China will create a strong foundation for new market and investment opportunities that will support global competitiveness. At the same time, Chinese firms want to be able to buy more high-tech products from the United States, make more investments here, and be accorded the same terms of access that market economies enjoy. We can work together on these objectives, but China still needs to take important steps toward reform. In particular, we are working with China to end unfair discrimination against U.S. and other foreign companies or against their innovative technologies, remove preferences for domestic firms, and end measures that disadvantage or appropriate foreign intellectual property. And we look to China to take steps to allow its currency to appreciate more rapidly, both against the dollar and against the currencies of its other major trading partners. Such reforms, we believe, would not only benefit both our countries (indeed, they would support the goals of China’s own five-year plan, which calls for more domestic-led growth), but also contribute to global economic balance, predictability, and broader prosperity.

Of course, we have made very clear, publicly and privately, our serious concerns about human rights. And when we see reports of public-interest lawyers, writers, artists, and others who are detained or disappeared, the United States speaks up, both publicly and privately, with our concerns about human rights. We make the case to our Chinese colleagues that a deep respect for international law and a more open political system would provide China with a foundation for far greater stability and growth — and increase the confidence of China’s partners. Without them, China is placing unnecessary limitations on its own development.

At the end of the day, there is no handbook for the evolving U.S.-China relationship. But the stakes are much too high for us to fail. As we proceed, we will continue to embed our relationship with China in a broader regional framework of security alliances, economic networks, and social connections.

Among key emerging powers with which we will work closely are India and Indonesia, two of the most dynamic and significant democratic powers of Asia, and both countries with which the Obama administration has pursued broader, deeper, and more purposeful relationships. The stretch of sea from the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Malacca to the Pacific contains the world’s most vibrant trade and energy routes. Together, India and Indonesia already account for almost a quarter of the world’s population. They are key drivers of the global economy, important partners for the United States, and increasingly central contributors to peace and security in the region. And their importance is likely to grow in the years ahead.

President Obama told the Indian parliament last year that the relationship between India and America will be one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century, rooted in common values and interests. There are still obstacles to overcome and questions to answer on both sides, but the United States is making a strategic bet on India’s future — that India’s greater role on the world stage will enhance peace and security, that opening India’s markets to the world will pave the way to greater regional and global prosperity, that Indian advances in science and technology will improve lives and advance human knowledge everywhere, and that India’s vibrant, pluralistic democracy will produce measurable results and improvements for its citizens and inspire others to follow a similar path of openness and tolerance. So the Obama administration has expanded our bilateral partnership; actively supported India’s Look East efforts, including through a new trilateral dialogue with India and Japan; and outlined a new vision for a more economically integrated and politically stable South and Central Asia, with India as a linchpin.

We are also forging a new partnership with Indonesia, the world’s third-largest democracy, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, and a member of the G-20. We have resumed joint training of Indonesian special forces units and signed a number of agreements on health, educational exchanges, science and technology, and defense. And this year, at the invitation of the Indonesian government, President Obama will inaugurate American participation in the East Asia Summit. But there is still some distance to travel — we have to work together to overcome bureaucratic impediments, lingering historical suspicions, and some gaps in understanding each other’s perspectives and interests.

Even as we strengthen these bilateral relationships, we have emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation, for we believe that addressing complex transnational challenges of the sort now faced by Asia requires a set of institutions capable of mustering collective action. And a more robust and coherent regional architecture in Asia would reinforce the system of rules and responsibilities, from protecting intellectual property to ensuring freedom of navigation, that form the basis of an effective international order. In multilateral settings, responsible behavior is rewarded with legitimacy and respect, and we can work together to hold accountable those who undermine peace, stability, and prosperity.

So the United States has moved to fully engage the region’s multilateral institutions, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, mindful that our work with regional institutions supplements and does not supplant our bilateral ties. There is a demand from the region that America play an active role in the agenda-setting of these institutions — and it is in our interests as well that they be effective and responsive.

That is why President Obama will participate in the East Asia Summit for the first time in November. To pave the way, the United States has opened a new U.S. Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation with ASEAN. Our focus on developing a more results-oriented agenda has been instrumental in efforts to address disputes in the South China Sea. In 2010, at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Hanoi, the United States helped shape a regionwide effort to protect unfettered access to and passage through the South China Sea, and to uphold the key international rules for defining territorial claims in the South China Sea’s waters. Given that half the world’s merchant tonnage flows through this body of water, this was a consequential undertaking. And over the past year, we have made strides in protecting our vital interests in stability and freedom of navigation and have paved the way for sustained multilateral diplomacy among the many parties with claims in the South China Sea, seeking to ensure disputes are settled peacefully and in accordance with established principles of international law.

We have also worked to strengthen APEC as a serious leaders-level institution focused on advancing economic integration and trade linkages across the Pacific. After last year’s bold call by the group for a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific, President Obama will host the 2011 APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Hawaii this November. We are committed to cementing APEC as the Asia-Pacific’s premier regional economic institution, setting the economic agenda in a way that brings together advanced and emerging economies to promote open trade and investment, as well as to build capacity and enhance regulatory regimes. APEC and its work help expand U.S. exports and create and support high-quality jobs in the United States, while fostering growth throughout the region. APEC also provides a key vehicle to drive a broad agenda to unlock the economic growth potential that women represent. In this regard, the United States is committed to working with our partners on ambitious steps to accelerate the arrival of the Participation Age, where every individual, regardless of gender or other characteristics, is a contributing and valued member of the global marketplace.

In addition to our commitment to these broader multilateral institutions, we have worked hard to create and launch a number of “minilateral” meetings, small groupings of interested states to tackle specific challenges, such as the Lower Mekong Initiative we launched to support education, health, and environmental programs in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, and the Pacific Islands Forum, where we are working to support its members as they confront challenges from climate change to overfishing to freedom of navigation. We are also starting to pursue new trilateral opportunities with countries as diverse as Mongolia, Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, and South Korea. And we are setting our sights as well on enhancing coordination and engagement among the three giants of the Asia-Pacific: China, India, and the United States.

In all these different ways, we are seeking to shape and participate in a responsive, flexible, and effective regional architecture — and ensure it connects to a broader global architecture that not only protects international stability and commerce but also advances our values.

Our emphasis on the economic work of APEC is in keeping with our broader commitment to elevate economic statecraft as a pillar of American foreign policy. Increasingly, economic progress depends on strong diplomatic ties, and diplomatic progress depends on strong economic ties. And naturally, a focus on promoting American prosperity means a greater focus on trade and economic openness in the Asia-Pacific. The region already generates more than half of global output and nearly half of global trade. As we strive to meet President Obama’s goal of doubling exports by 2015, we are looking for opportunities to do even more business in Asia. Last year, American exports to the Pacific Rim totaled $320 billion, supporting 850,000 American jobs. So there is much that favors us as we think through this repositioning.

When I talk to my Asian counterparts, one theme consistently stands out: They still want America to be an engaged and creative partner in the region’s flourishing trade and financial interactions. And as I talk with business leaders across our own nation, I hear how important it is for the United States to expand our exports and our investment opportunities in Asia’s dynamic markets.

Last March in APEC meetings in Washington, and again in Hong Kong in July, I laid out four attributes that I believe characterize healthy economic competition: open, free, transparent, and fair. Through our engagement in the Asia-Pacific, we are helping to give shape to these principles and showing the world their value.

We are pursuing new cutting-edge trade deals that raise the standards for fair competition even as they open new markets. For instance, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement will eliminate tariffs on 95 percent of U.S. consumer and industrial exports within five years and support an estimated 70,000 American jobs. Its tariff reductions alone could increase exports of American goods by more than $10 billion and help South Korea’s economy grow by 6 percent. It will level the playing field for U.S. auto companies and workers. So, whether you are an American manufacturer of machinery or a South Korean chemicals exporter, this deal lowers the barriers that keep you from reaching new customers.

We are also making progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will bring together economies from across the Pacific — developed and developing alike — into a single trading community. Our goal is to create not just more growth, but better growth. We believe trade agreements need to include strong protections for workers, the environment, intellectual property, and innovation. They should also promote the free flow of information technology and the spread of green technology, as well as the coherence of our regulatory system and the efficiency of supply chains. Ultimately, our progress will be measured by the quality of people’s lives — whether men and women can work in dignity, earn a decent wage, raise healthy families, educate their children, and take hold of the opportunities to improve their own and the next generation’s fortunes. Our hope is that a TPP agreement with high standards can serve as a benchmark for future agreements — and grow to serve as a platform for broader regional interaction and eventually a free trade area of the Asia-Pacific.

Achieving balance in our trade relationships requires a two-way commitment. That’s the nature of balance — it can’t be unilaterally imposed. So we are working through APEC, the G-20, and our bilateral relationships to advocate for more open markets, fewer restrictions on exports, more transparency, and an overall commitment to fairness. American businesses and workers need to have confidence that they are operating on a level playing field, with predictable rules on everything from intellectual property to indigenous innovation.

Asia’s remarkable economic growth over the past decade and its potential for continued growth in the future depend on the security and stability that has long been guaranteed by the U.S. military, including more than 50,000 American servicemen and servicewomen serving in Japan and South Korea. The challenges of today’s rapidly changing region — from territorial and maritime disputes to new threats to freedom of navigation to the heightened impact of natural disasters — require that the United States pursue a more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable force posture.

We are modernizing our basing arrangements with traditional allies in Northeast Asia — and our commitment on this is rock solid — while enhancing our presence in Southeast Asia and into the Indian Ocean. For example, the United States will be deploying littoral combat ships to Singapore, and we are examining other ways to increase opportunities for our two militaries to train and operate together. And the United States and Australia agreed this year to explore a greater American military presence in Australia to enhance opportunities for more joint training and exercises. We are also looking at how we can increase our operational access in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean region and deepen our contacts with allies and partners.

How we translate the growing connection between the Indian and Pacific oceans into an operational concept is a question that we need to answer if we are to adapt to new challenges in the region. Against this backdrop, a more broadly distributed military presence across the region will provide vital advantages. The United States will be better positioned to support humanitarian missions; equally important, working with more allies and partners will provide a more robust bulwark against threats or efforts to undermine regional peace and stability.

But even more than our military might or the size of our economy, our most potent asset as a nation is the power of our values — in particular, our steadfast support for democracy and human rights. This speaks to our deepest national character and is at the heart of our foreign policy, including our strategic turn to the Asia-Pacific region.

As we deepen our engagement with partners with whom we disagree on these issues, we will continue to urge them to embrace reforms that would improve governance, protect human rights, and advance political freedoms. We have made it clear, for example, to Vietnam that our ambition to develop a strategic partnership requires that it take steps to further protect human rights and advance political freedoms. Or consider Burma, where we are determined to seek accountability for human rights violations. We are closely following developments in Nay Pyi Taw and the increasing interactions between Aung San Suu Kyi and the government leadership. We have underscored to the government that it must release political prisoners, advance political freedoms and human rights, and break from the policies of the past. As for North Korea, the regime in Pyongyang has shown persistent disregard for the rights of its people, and we continue to speak out forcefully against the threats it poses to the region and beyond.

We cannot and do not aspire to impose our system on other countries, but we do believe that certain values are universal — that people in every nation in the world, including in Asia, cherish them — and that they are intrinsic to stable, peaceful, and prosperous countries. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Asia to pursue their own rights and aspirations, just as we have seen people do all over the world.

In the last decade, our foreign policy has transitioned from dealing with the post-Cold War peace dividend to demanding commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan. As those wars wind down, we will need to accelerate efforts to pivot to new global realities.

We know that these new realities require us to innovate, to compete, and to lead in new ways. Rather than pull back from the world, we need to press forward and renew our leadership. In a time of scarce resources, there’s no question that we need to invest them wisely where they will yield the biggest returns, which is why the Asia-Pacific represents such a real 21st-century opportunity for us.

Other regions remain vitally important, of course. Europe, home to most of our traditional allies, is still a partner of first resort, working alongside the United States on nearly every urgent global challenge, and we are investing in updating the structures of our alliance. The people of the Middle East and North Africa are charting a new path that is already having profound global consequences, and the United States is committed to active and sustained partnerships as the region transforms. Africa holds enormous untapped potential for economic and political development in the years ahead. And our neighbors in the Western Hemisphere are not just our biggest export partners; they are also playing a growing role in global political and economic affairs. Each of these regions demands American engagement and leadership.

And we are prepared to lead. Now, I’m well aware that there are those who question our staying power around the world. We’ve heard this talk before. At the end of the Vietnam War, there was a thriving industry of global commentators promoting the idea that America was in retreat, and it is a theme that repeats itself every few decades. But whenever the United States has experienced setbacks, we’ve overcome them through reinvention and innovation. Our capacity to come back stronger is unmatched in modern history. It flows from our model of free democracy and free enterprise, a model that remains the most powerful source of prosperity and progress known to humankind. I hear everywhere I go that the world still looks to the United States for leadership. Our military is by far the strongest, and our economy is by far the largest in the world. Our workers are the most productive. Our universities are renowned the world over. So there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to secure and sustain our global leadership in this century as we did in the last.

As we move forward to set the stage for engagement in the Asia-Pacific over the next 60 years, we are mindful of the bipartisan legacy that has shaped our engagement for the past 60. And we are focused on the steps we have to take at home — increasing our savings, reforming our financial systems, relying less on borrowing, overcoming partisan division — to secure and sustain our leadership abroad.

This kind of pivot is not easy, but we have paved the way for it over the past two-and-a-half years, and we are committed to seeing it through as among the most important diplomatic efforts of our time.


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These two trips were packed together with only two days home in between. Just posting about them was pretty intense, and the dazzling SOS came through the whole thing glowing as usual. Here’s a look back at almost a month of diplomatic travel.

Afghanistan 11/18-11/19

Beijing 11/17

Shanghai 11/16

Singapore APEC 11/14-11/15

Phlippines 11/12-11/13

Singapore APEC 11/11

Berlin 11/8-11/10

Morocco 11/1-11/3

Israel 10/31

Abu Dhabi 10/30

Pakistan 10/27-10/29

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