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Senior State Department Official Readout of Secretary Clinton’s Bilateral Meetings with Chinese, Japanese, and Australian Foreign Ministers at APEC

MODERATOR:   Okay.  For your records, [Senior State Department Official], hereafter known as Senior State Department Official to readout the Secretary’s bilateral meetings today with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang, Japanese Foreign Minister Gemba, and Australian Foreign Minister Rudd, as well as to talk about her speech that she gave earlier this morning at the East-West Center.

Senior Official.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL:  Thank you, [Moderator].  And again, I apologize for keeping you all waiting.  Sometimes these meetings back up, so it’s great to see so many friends here today.  Let me just give you a little bit of a laydown of where we are today.

Obviously, we’re in the midst of probably, for us, the most consequential period of American foreign policy in Asia, perhaps in decades.  Really beginning with the visit of the Korean foreign minister with our President, and the passage of the Korea Free Trade Agreement.  Obviously, here in APEC, we’re making progress on TPP, working on a variety of specific initiatives for the leaders to consider of the major economies over the course of the next couple of days, the President then going to Australia and then to Bali for the first ever representation of the United States at the East Asia Summit, also the U.S.-ASEAN meetings and the bilateral meetings between the United States and Indonesia.

Secretary Clinton announced today that she – in addition to going to the Philippines, in which we will sign the so-called Manila Declaration, which really commits our two nations to work more closely together on a whole course of strategic interactions – she will also go to Thailand to represent the United States.  Thailand was, unfortunately, unable to – the prime minister – to come to APEC because of the tragic floods, and Secretary Clinton will be arriving in Bangkok next week with specific areas where the United States is going to provide urgent assistance amidst the worst flooding in the history of Thailand.

I think you all had a chance to see her speech today.  It is part of a series of speeches in which she is underscoring that the United States is in the midst of a substantial pivot in our foreign policy, as we responsibly draw down our commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq and focus more consequentially on our efforts in the Asia Pacific region, built on six pillars, including our bilateral relationships, which need to be strengthened, and revitalize our new partnerships with countries like India and Indonesia, a very important set of relationships with China, the importance of trade and economic interactions.

And I think we were all encouraged by what we’ve seen with respect to the passage of the Korea Free Trade Agreement, and that has given substantial impetus to the efforts associated with TPP.  More will be said on that over the course of the next few days.  And of course, we are in the process of diversifying our military commitments and engagements in the region as a whole, and we are committed to strengthening our engagement in multilateral fora as a whole.

Before that session, the President had a brief – the Secretary had a brief meeting with all of the leaders from the Pacific Island nations.  They are here in Hawaii as part of a major conference that is being undertaken by the East-West Center, and we’re looking forward to more discussions with them over the course of the next several days.  As the Secretary said, we often say the Asia Pacific region – we focus more on the A than the P.  We’re trying to rectify that and spend more time focused on the Pacific and working closely with our partners on a range of issues from climate change to the health of fisheries to the endemic health issues that basically are prevalent throughout the Pacific.

She had three very good bilateral interactions with foreign ministers that she knows very well.  This was her – nearly her tenth meeting with Foreign Minister Yang.  In those sessions, we underscored our determination to make progress on a range of economic issues, underscoring that it is important for us to be able to deliver a clear message to our people in the United States that this relationship is working for them.  And I think we made very clear the areas that we’d like to see progress on, ranging from macroeconomic policy to issues associated to – from international[i] property rights and also to – questions related to the treatment of human rights inside China.  So a whole set of discussions around our bilateral issues.

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