Long-Standing Interests in the Pacific

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell, accompanied by U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Patrick M. Walsh, USAID Assistant Administrator Nisha Biswal and Office of the Secretary of Defense South/Southeast Asia Principal Director Brigadier General Simcock will travel to the Pacific Islands June 26 - July 1, 2011. On June 24, 2011, Assistant Secretary Campbell held a press briefing on his upcoming trip and addressed U.S. interests in the region. Assistant Secretary Campbell said:

"So we're going to just go over some developments this week, and I'd like to start with, I think -- on some issues that we didn't feel were adequately covered earlier this week from the 2+2 meeting between the United States and Japan. And I just want to underscore that this was the first meeting of the 2+2 which, in many ways, is the driving institutional mechanism between the United States and Japan since 2007. And a number of landmark agreements were reached that we would encourage you to take a look at, and I think underscore both the commitment of both countries to work closely together, but also reflect a very substantial forward momentum.

"For instance, the agreement on field carrier landing operations were significant. We came up with a runway configurement for the FRF plan, off-shore Okinawa. We were able to articulate new common strategic objectives for the United States and Japan, not just in the defense of Japan but in the wider regional context in the Asian Pacific region and beyond, given Japan's important role that they're playing in the defense of piracy and also developments on -- in South Asia and Afghanistan. So, an important meeting, and I think it does suggest that U.S.-Japan relations are firmly back on track, and a reflection that the United States was the first on the scene in terms of international friends to support Japan in its time of need in the aftermath of the tragic earthquake and nuclear crisis. And we were very grateful for the deep public appreciation and private expressions of that from our Japanese counterparts while they were visiting.

"Secondly, yesterday, I think as you all know, the Philippine foreign minister was here, Foreign Minister del Rosario. He was here as part of a process to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the strong alliance between the United States and the Philippines. We discussed a range of issues and we are working closely with our Philippine counterparts to increase a number of capacities in relation to governance and assistance, but also maritime domain awareness, which we think is important in terms of the relationship between the United States and the Philippines. And I look forward to closer interactions with them in the coming months.

"Today, Foreign Minister Kim will be meeting with Secretary Clinton. Yesterday, he had senior meetings at the White House. In fact, he's been engaged in close consultations with the United States on the way forward over the course of the last several days. He was very supportive of our efforts in relation to building a very strong American pavilion next year at the Yeosu Expo. And I just want to underscore the very strong alliance relationship that exists between the United States and South Korea. And we are completely in alignment in terms of our goals, strategic objectives with respect to next steps with North Korea.

"And then if I may just say as a moment on Saturday, late Saturday, an interagency team from the State Department, from the Department of Defense, from Admiral Pat Walsh, head of our forces in the Pacific, and a senior representative from USAID -- we're making, really, the first trip of its kind. We are going throughout the Pacific. Too often, when we say the Asia Pacific, it is the Pacific that gets short shrift. And so over a week's time, we will go to Kiribas, Samoa, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

"In many respects, this is really an unprecedented high-level trip, and it will underscore our whole-of-government commitment by the United States to fulfill our moral, strategic, and political, and indeed, long-standing interests in the Pacific. We've had strong relations with the -- our partners for decades, and we want to continue that going forward. And we will, in each stop, articulate specific steps on assistance, on dealing with climate change, on dealing with the welfare of the people of the Pacific Islands. And in every place, we will try to coordinate closely with partners such as Australia and New Zealand who have deep strategic interests in the Pacific. We're extremely excited about this trip. We recognize that the challenges affecting the Pacific, ranging from climate change to endemic poverty, are important to address, and the United States wants to be in the forefront of that effort, bringing together a range of international actors that care about developments there.

"And then finally on Saturday, a U.S. team in Honolulu will be meeting with Chinese interlocutors as part of a commitment made at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue to hold an Asia Pacific consultation between our two countries to explore and examine our respective views and positions with respect to the Pacific. We talk about a whole number of issues -- economic, Afghanistan, developments in Africa -- and we thought it was important to step up our dialogue and increase dialogue associated particularly with the Asian Pacific region. It will be our intention to ask some specific questions -- what's the direction of Chinese military developments?

"We're very interested in their diplomacy with North Korea, with Burma, with other players in the Asian Pacific region. I imagine the Chinese interlocutors will ask us about our plans for force posture, modernization, and some of our engagements with our friends and others in the region. This is part of an effort to increase transparency, predictability, and build trust and confidence between two key nations, and we are deeply involved in consultations with all others in the Asian Pacific region as well.

"I think with that -- let me just also say that we are very pleased with the release of Ai Weiwei and we welcome that step. However, the United States continues to be deeply concerned by the trend of forced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and convictions of public interest lawyers, writers, artists, intellectuals, and activists in China for exercising their internationally recognized human rights. And I intend to raise these issues in our discussions over the course of the next day in Honolulu."

You can read the full transcript of Assistant Secretary Campbell's press briefing here.



Eileen N.
California, USA
June 27, 2011

Eileen in California writes:

Finally a high level inter-agency State Department visit to Solomon Islands. I hope there will be discussions about aid programs, peace corp and USAID renewed involvement in the Pacific Region.
We can only hope President Obama will visit next.

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
June 25, 2011


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