Friday, September 7, 2012

Hillary Clinton: Wheels Down Vladivostok

Clinton Arrives in Russia for APEC Summit

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks for the launch of the Brunei-U.S. English Language Enrichment Project for ASEAN at Universiti Brunei Daussalam in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, September 7, 2012.

 VOA News
September 07, 2012
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary has arrived in Russia for a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders, while a Chinese state newspaper is warning Washington not to use the annual economic summit to focus on political differences.
Clinton arrived Friday in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok after wrapping up her six-nation tour of Asia that largely focused on the territorial disputes between China and several key U.S. allies.
The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit is expected to highlight efforts to re-energize world and regional economic growth.  The 21-member APEC forum accounts for 40 percent of the world's population, 54 percent of economic output and 44 percent of trade.
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For a little background, here is an excerpt from a press briefing by a senior State Department official en route to Vladivostok.
So guys, just very quickly, just on where we’re going – I know you all know, but so Vladivostok in Russian means – “vlad,” as Steve knows, means power, and “vostok” is east. So it means power of the east and has always been sort of periodically through Russian history the point in which Russia has tried to be active in Asia.
And so one of the things that we’ve seen in that last couple of months is another renewed effort on the part of Russia to articulate that they want to play a larger role in the Asia Pacific region. So the last time this happened was in 1986 when Mikhail Gorbachev gave a famous speech in Vladivostok about Russia wanting to play a more purposeful role. In fact, they have not played a very active role to date. They are part of the Six-Party Talks with North Korea, but their engagement is episodic, and I think we’re going to want to be talking with them more directly about what their goals and ambitions are. We have welcomed them to engage in a stronger dialogue on Asia, and I think we’ll be looking to take them up on that possibility over the course of the next couple of months.
So APEC – we have a couple of things that we’re going to try to accomplish and nail down this year. The first is, last year the leaders came to a general agreement on trade within the APEC countries on environmental goods and services. But in fact, as is often the case in these complex negotiations, the challenge is in the details, and so we’ve spent the last year trying to nail down what specific products and services are included in that list, and we hope to be able to conclude that in the next couple of days. That’s actually quite significant if we can accomplish it because this is, by far and away, the largest potential growing market associated with environmental goods and services.
Second is, a lot of Asian countries are nervous about food security, particularly in the rice supplies and the cost of rice, and so that will be a subject particularly on the second day. But really what these meetings are about more than anything else are the conversations in the hallways and what takes place in the bilateral meetings. I think as [Senior State Department Official One] said, we anticipate the Secretary will have a range of discussions with Asian interlocutors, and most of them have requested a chance to sit down and talk with her.
I think we will see, in one fashion or another, every one of the ASEAN leaders. And in those discussions, we’re going to want to compare notes on what’s transpiring with regard to the code of conduct. I think the Secretary will also want to debrief them on her recent stops both at ASEAN and as it relates to her visit in China. She’ll be meeting with the heads – with the presidents of – the President of Korea and the Prime Minister of Japan. We’ll talk about a variety of bilateral business, but we will also remind both countries of the importance we place on their determination to work well together. And we have been concerned by tensions of late between Tokyo and South Korea – Tokyo and Seoul.
I also wanted to give you guys just a little bit of context of what we have seen since we’ve left Beijing. I urge you to take a look at the speech that Prime Minister Lee, the Prime Minister of Singapore, gave yesterday – a very important speech, and it’s important because it was given in Beijing on a number of fronts. First of all, his overall message is the message that Secretary Clinton and the United States and other countries have been articulating now for months – the importance of dealing with the issue of the South China Sea constructively, diplomatically, and articulating that the code of conduct is the best way forward.
He also was pretty clear about Singapore and ASEAN’s desire for there to be a good relationship between China and the United States, and in fact, he went into some detail about how the United States has historically rallied from challenging circumstances, and that he believes, as do others, that the United States is going to play an extraordinarily important role in the Asia Pacific region for decades to come, and in fact, we’re going nowhere. We’re going to be around and deeply engaged.