Thursday, January 7, 2010

Put another shrimp on the barbie, Secretary Clinton to visit Australia

The State Department announced on Wednesday, that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to the Western Pacific January 11-19, 2010.

Secretary Clinton will deliver a major Asia policy speech in Honolulu, Hawaii at the East West Center on January 12th focused on Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement. She will also be consulting with the Pacific Command and hold a ministerial meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada on the relocation of the Futenma Air Station.

From Hawaii the Secretary will travel to Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Australia, returning to the U.S. on the 19th.

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell briefed the foreign press on the trip Thursday. He noted that Washington "want[s] the Japanese Government to support strongly a robust military and particularly Marine commitment on Okinawa and elsewhere, at the same time, we also recognize that this is a broader relationship, that so many things are in play, and I would just point out over the course of the last couple of months, several things have occurred that underscore the importance of Japan as a partner to the United States."

For an official State Department summary of Mr. Campbell's briefing see HERE.

The evening edition of the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Campbell's statements a bit more stridently. Their Washington correspondent wrote:
Campbell pointed out that "the security alliance is the core of the Japan-U.S. relationship." He said: "The U.S. would like the Japanese government to provide strong support for robust troops in Okinawa, particularly for the presence of the Marines," demanding progress in the issue of the relocation of the USFJ's Futenma Air Station. He added, "Security issues are important in an Asia characterized by complexity and undergoing major changes. The U.S. wants a very clear declaration (from the Japanese side) of its intent to continue close cooperation with the U.S." He indicated that the U.S. will confirm this in the talks on deepening the alliance.

Campbell also stated: "The Japan-U.S. alliance provides the basis for economic development in Asia. Today, when the U.S. talks with its Asian friends, the first topic that comes up is: 'We want Japan and the U.S. to maintain a strong relationship'." He disclosed that Asian countries have expressed their concern about the present state of the Japan-U.S. relationship to the U.S. directly.

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