Background Briefing on Secretary Clinton's Travel to the Cook Islands, Indonesia, China, Timor-Leste, Brunei, and Russia
Senior State Department OfficialWashington, DCAugust 29, 2012The Secretary’s first stop on this trip will be in the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands this year are the hosts of the institutional organization of the Pacific, or one of the most important institutional – institutions of the Pacific called the Pacific Island Forum. It’s a group that meets yearly with a number of working groups. It’s been in existence almost half a century; it’s very significant. Last year – for their issues – last year, Deputy Secretary Nides went. We had a very large delegation of over 50 representing upwards of 17 different agencies, from Coast Guard to Defense to Interior and the like.
This is part of a process that we have begun at the outset of this Administration, which is really to step up and to reaffirm our longstanding commitments in the Pacific. And sometimes when we talk about the Asia Pacific, the A is the capital and P is small. And our attempt here is to underscore that we have very strong, enduring, strategic, moral, political, humanitarian interests across the region. It’s an area in which we invested substantially historically – blood and treasure.
I just returned about two weeks ago from my own trip around the Pacific. This is the 70th anniversary of some of the most challenging fighting in places like the Solomons – famous Iron Bottom Sound – also places in Papua and elsewhere. We’ve made some major investments there over the course of the last several years. We’ve provided some very substantial financing, upwards of about $7 billion for projects in the Pacific in areas including new liquid natural gas finds and the like. And we’ve done a lot of financing for commercial – airline – airplane purchases in places like New Zealand.
We do, however, recognize that in the Pacific they are facing enormous challenges, challenges associated with climate change, with health. They have enormous problems of sedentary diseases, diabetes and the like, challenges of violence against women and illegal fishing, you name it. And so when the Secretary arrives at the PIF, she’s bringing with her a series of initiatives that are intent on addressing the full range of challenges that the Pacific Islanders face. She’ll be meeting with the leaders, laying out the work that we are doing both through USAID but a number of other agencies, and a number of innovative ideas and projects and plans for dealing with issues like illegal fishing, so-called shiprider agreements, and we will also highlight the extent to which we are now working with other countries to better rationalize and implement our assistance.
In fact, in terms of per capita assistance, the Pacific actually fares quite well, but it’s very poorly coordinated assistance. So we’re working much more closely with Japan, but particularly Australia, New Zealand, Korea, and most particularly, much closer work with China in the last several years. And in fact, we have laid out some areas where the two countries are endeavoring to work together on, for instance, initiatives associated with energy efficiency. This is the largest, highest concentration of sunlight on the planet, lowest usage of renewable fuels and renewable energy technologies.
I’ll be happy to answer any further. She’ll be meeting with Prime Minister Gillard, Prime Minister Key, the head of Cook Islands, the head of the Pacific Island Forum. She will be joined by Admiral Locklear for a number of our security initiatives. And as we roll out our work on environmental issues, on women’s issues, we will be supported by other countries and other key players inside the U.S. Government.
From there, the Secretary will proceed to Indonesia, where she will be meeting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Foreign Minister Natalegawa. I say that wrong (inaudible). We intend to talk about a range of issues. Clearly, Indonesia is emerging as a leading and critical and crucial state in ASEAN. We will be talking with them about upcoming plans for the East Asia Summit, what is their approach to critical issues in terms of building institutions like the EAS and the ASEAN Regional Forum, and to get their take on the aftermath of the ASEAN Regional Forum in July when, as you recall, the ASEAN was unable to reach consensus on a variety of challenging issues, including the South China Sea.
From Indonesia, the Secretary will proceed to Beijing. I will already be there. We’ll be traveling there in the next couple of days with Kin Moy and myself, where we will be preparing the way for the Secretary’s meetings with a range of senior Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, Vice President Xi. She’ll have a longer meeting with State Councilor Dai Bingguo and also intense meetings with Foreign Minister Yang.
We believe that the full range of issues in U.S.-China relations will be discussed, from developments in Asia, developments on the Korean Peninsula, issues associated with peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region. We will touch on and deal with challenges associated with the South China Sea. We’ll talk about Iran, obviously developments in Syria, Afghanistan – the full range.
I think the Secretary intends very clearly to underscore our continuing interest in maintaining a strong, positive relationship between our two countries. We recognize how critically important that is, and one of the challenges before us is to demonstrate how we deal with areas in which we have differing perceptions and where we face challenging issues on the ground, or in this case in the water.
From Beijing, we will travel first to Timor-Leste. The Secretary will meet with the new leadership there after the recent elections. We’ll underscore our commitment to Timor’s fledgling democracy. We’ll have a couple of other stops. Timor’s – one of Timor’s industries that is growing is in coffee. She will stop at a coffee plantation to be able to review some of the work that is being done there. I think we will highlight the role that the United States and the international community has played in seeing Timor reach basically a new stage of political and economic development in the last few years.
We will then travel to Brunei. Brunei will be the host of the East Asia Summit next year. I think we’ll want to work with them, talk with them about their plans and goals and ambitions for ASEAN and for the East Asia Summit in 2013. The Secretary will renew friendships there. We will thank them for support that they’ve given us in a number of areas, and she’ll have a chance to sit down over a dinner with the Sultan.
From Brunei, we will then go north again and we will go to Russky Island off the shore of Vladivostok for APEC this year. She’ll be joined by senior officials from the U.S. Government, and she will be the representative of the President at APEC this year. And I think our goals there would be to ensure that the very ambitious agenda that we implemented, we rolled out in Hawaii last year, that the full range of initiatives are being implemented; to look at particular challenges that we face in a variety of areas in relation to intellectual property; and we also anticipate doing some meetings with key players as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In addition, the Secretary will host a number – host or have a number of bilateral engagements with leaders where we will review the bidding on particular issues associated with the Asia Pacific. I think I would just simply say that it is a very long, very diverse trip, but the concurrent themes that run through this is a strong, determined effort on the part of the United States to underscore our rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific region, to make clear that we’re here to stay, that we are engaged on an array of issues – strategic, political, commercial; it spans not just Asia, not just Northeast Asia but Southeast Asia and increasingly the Pacific; and that we are working with a full range of partners, allies, friends, and we want to underscore our strong commitment to maintaining peace and stability.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Special Briefing on Hillary Clinton's Asia Pacific Travel
This briefing did not take place en route because the official giving it was not to be on the plane today, but rather is scheduled to meet up with Mme. Secretary later in the trip.