Category: Energy and Power

Secretary’s Remarks: U.S. Vision for Asia-Pacific Engagement

MR. MORRISON: Well, thank you. Aloha. I want to welcome everyone. And for our online audience, and also for the Secretary, I’d like to describe who is here in our audience. We have the mayor of Honolulu, Mayor Caldwell. We have our senator, Mazie Hirono. We have our former governor, George Ariyoshi, and our other former governor, John Waihee. We have many members of the business and intellectual and public affairs community here in Honolulu. We have members of the diplomatic corps. We have members of our men and women in uniform. We have the members of the board of governors of the East-West Center. We have the staff of the East-West Center. We have friends of the East-West Center. And most importantly, we have future leaders of the Asia Pacific region. And I was just telling the Secretary, I think yesterday we welcomed 130 new participants from the United States and 40 other countries. They’re here on a unique program to prepare them for being future regional and global leaders.

Now, how do you introduce a man who is so well-known for his own leadership and —

SECRETARY KERRY: First thing, you can just tell everybody to sit down.

MR. MORRISON: Oh. (Laughter.) Please sit down, yes. (Laughter.) Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Anyway, as you know, he has served in war and peace. He was a senator for 28 years; 59 million Americans voted for him for president, including 54 percent of the voters of Hawaii. (Laughter and applause.) But as a former senate staff person, I thought the way to really check him out was to see how his confirmation hearing went. Now, the issues were controversial but the nominee was not controversial, and what his former colleagues said about him, Republicans and Democrats, I think give the essence of the man: extremely well prepared, born in a Foreign Service family, served all 28 years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, four years as the chairman of that committee. He knows the languages – several foreign languages, countries, leaders, and issues. He is a man of incredible moral and intellectual integrity. He brings conviction and compassion to his job and great energy. He has been, I think, on his seventh trip to Asia, coming back and so we want to welcome him back to the United States. We want to welcome him to our most Asia Pacific state, and we want to welcome him to the East-West Center, an institution that’s building community with this vast region which is so systemically important to the future of the United States.

Mr. Secretary of State. (Applause.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you. Well, good afternoon, everybody. Aloha. It’s wonderful to be here in Hawaii, and man, I can’t tell you how I wish I was as relaxed as some of you in your beautiful shirts. (Laughter.) Here I am in my – whatever you call it – uniform. Uniform, some would say. But it is such a pleasure to be here. Mr. Mayor, it’s great to be here with you. And Mazie, thank you. It’s wonderful to see you, Senator. I’m very happy to see you. Thanks for being here. And governors, thank you for being here very much.

Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests all, it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be able to be here. And President Morrison, thank you very much for that generous introduction. I appreciate it very much.

Charles was way ahead of the curve, folks, in seeing the trend towards regionalism in the Asia Pacific in the early 1990s. And he was calling for community-building within East Asia well before it became a standard topic of discussion on the think tank circuit. So clearly, and to everyone’s benefit, he’s had an ability to focus on the long game. And that is a talent that he actually shares with one of the founding fathers of this institution, a former colleague, beloved to all of you, who became a great friend to me, and that’s Senator Dan Inouye. During my sort of latter years, I actually moved up to about seventh in seniority or something in the United States Senate, and had I not been appointed to this job, with all of the retirements that are taking place, I don’t know, I might have been third or fourth or something, which is kind of intimidating. But as a result of that, I got to sit beside the great Dan Inouye for four or five years in the Senate. Our desks were beside each other, and we became very good friends. He was one of the early supporters of mine when I decided to run for President in ’04, ’03. But most importantly, Dan Inouye, as all of you know, was a patriot above all who commanded remarkable respect and affection of all of his colleagues. And Hawaii was so wise to keep him in office for so many years.

Having just visited yesterday Guadalcanal, having stood up on what was called Bloody Ridge, Edson’s Ridge, and walked into one of the still remaining bunkers that Marines were dug in on against 3,000-plus Japanese who kept coming at them wave after wave in the evening, it’s – it was a remarkable sense of the battle that turned the war. And no place knows the meaning of all of that better than here in Hawaii.

Yesterday commemorated really one of the great battles of the Second World War, and so it gave me a chance to reflect with special pride and with humility about Dan’s service to our country. He was a hero in the war, against difficult circumstances which we all understand too well. But he became the first Japanese American to serve in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate, against all the odds of what was still a prevailing sense in our country of misunderstanding between people. And he just never let that get in the way. He shared a very personal commitment to strengthening ties between the United States and the Asia Pacific. And that’s why he championed the East-West Center for decades, and I want you to know that President Obama and I strongly support your mission of bringing people together to think creatively about the future of our role in the region and how we overcome the kinds of inherent, visceral differences that sometimes are allowed to get in the way of relationships, and frankly, in the way of common sense.

We remember too well in America that slavery was written into our Constitution long before it was written out of it. And we all know the struggle that it took – excuse me – to write it out. So as we look at the world today – complicated, difficult, tumultuous, volatile – for so many of us who have spent decades working on issues central to the Asia Pacific, there’s actually something particularly exciting about this moment. It’s almost exhilarating when you look at Asia’s transformation. And like Dan Inouye, I have had the privilege, as many of you have here I can see, you’ve lived a lot of that transformation firsthand.

A number of my – (coughing) – excuse me, it’s the virtue of many hours in an airplane. A number of my ancestors from Boston and from Massachusetts were merchants whose ships dropped anchor in Hong Kong as they plied the lonely trade routes to China. My grandfather, actually, was born in Shanghai and was a businessman who had a partnership with a Chinese businessman. So in our family and in Massachusetts, we’ve had a long sense of the possibilities and of this relationship. Today, East Asia is one of the largest, fastest growing, most dynamic regions in the entire world. And when the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations are complete, about 40 percent of global GDP will be linked by a high-standard trade agreement, a trade agreement that creates a race to the top, not a race to the bottom, where people understand the rules of engagement and there’s accountability and transparency, and business and capital know exactly what the rules of the road will be so they’re attracted to invest each in each other’s countries.

After college, I had the privilege of serving in the United States Navy. And I went through Pearl Harbor. I had a remarkable several days here as a young officer on a frigate before we set sail to cross the Pacific. And I drove all over the island everywhere, in places I probably wasn’t supposed to. But I loved it and then spent a second tour in the rivers of Vietnam. And back then, the word Vietnam – just saying Vietnam – carried with it an ominous meaning. It meant war. It meant huge dissent in America, families torn apart. But today, Vietnam, when you say it, has a whole different meaning to most people. It’s now a dynamic country filled with economic opportunity. It’s a market for our businesses and our investors. It’s a classroom for our children. It has one of the largest Fulbright programs in the world. And it’s a partner in tackling regional economic and security challenges.

Such extraordinary transformations have actually become almost the norm in this region. I’ll never forget, 15 years ago, I visited in then Burma – no confusion with Myanmar but now people choose what they want to call it. But I visited with Daw Aung Sung Sui Kyi in the very home in which she was imprisoned for nearly two decades. And this week, I had the privilege of again going back to the very same house – it hadn’t changed, looked the same. She, by the way, 20 years later looks the same. And she is now free to speak her mind as a member of parliament.

It’s remarkable. It doesn’t mean all the president are solved. But these transformations are just some of what makes Asia the most exciting and promising places on the planet.

I am returning, as President Morrison has said, from actually my sixth trip to the Asia Pacific in 18 months as Secretary of State. And later today, I’ll be meeting with our outstanding Commander of United States Forces in the Pacific to review a range of America’s formidable military presence issues. I have returned again and again to this region – I can’t tell you how many times I went, Mazie, as a senator to the region. And we are now – we take our enduring interests there, obviously, very, very seriously.

We know that America’s security and prosperity are closely and increasingly linked to the Asia Pacific. And that’s why President Obama began what is known as the rebalance to Asia in 2009. That’s why he’s asked me to redouble my own efforts in the region over the next two and half years. And that’s why I want to talk to you today about four specific opportunities: creating sustainable economic growth, powering a clean energy revolution, promoting regional cooperation, and empowering people.

Now, these important opportunities can and should be realized through a rules-based regional order, a stable regional order on common rules and norms of behavior that are reinforced by institutions. And that’s what holds the greatest potential for all of us for making progress. We support this approach, frankly, because it encourages cooperative behavior. It fosters regional integration. It ensures that all countries, big and small – and the small part is really important – that they have a say in how we work together on shared challenges. I want you to know that the United States is deeply committed to realizing this vision. President Obama is excited about it. He wants us all to be committed to fostering it and also to understanding why we’re doing it. And frankly, it is this vision that is the underlying reason that so many countries in Asia choose to work with the United States.

You hear some people today talking about the United States retrenching or disengaging. Nothing could be further from the truth. I think we’re more engaged and more active in more countries and more parts of the world than any time in American history. And I can tell you that because just driving over here I was on the phone to people in the Middle East, talking about a ceasefire which is now going to be in place in the next days; talking about the road ahead. Just came back from Afghanistan, where we’re working on the transition to the people of Afghanistan, to their future. We’re engaged with Iran, working on the nuclear program; with the DPRK, with China, and Sudan, and Central Africa. We just had 50-plus African leaders to Washington to talk about the future of American engagement there. We are deeply engaged in a very, very complex world.

But this speech and this moment here at the university and at the center, and the trip that I just made to Asia, are meant to underscore that even as we focus on those crises that I’ve just listed and on conflicts that dominate the headlines on a daily basis and demand our leadership – even as we do that, we will never forget the long-term strategic imperatives for American interests. As Secretary of State, my job isn’t just to respond to crises. It’s also about defining and seizing the long-term opportunities for the United States. And having just traveled to Burma, Australia, and the Solomon Islands, I can tell you that nowhere are those strategic opportunities clearer or more compelling than in the Asia Pacific.

That’s why we are currently negotiating a comprehensive and ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that will create thousands of new jobs here in America as well as in other countries, and it will spur this race to the top, not to the bottom. It raises the standards by which we do business. That’s why we’re elevating our engagement in multilateral institutions, from the ASEAN Regional Forum to the East Asia Summit. And that’s why we are revitalizing our security partnerships with our treaty allies: Japan, Australia, South Korea, and the Philippines. And that’s why we are standing up for the human rights and the fundamental freedoms that people in Asia cherish as much as any people in the world.

I have no illusions about the challenges, and nor does President Obama. They are complex in this 21st century, in many ways far more complex than the bipolar, East-West, Soviet Union-versus-West world – the Cold War that many of us grew up in. This is far more complicated. It’s far more, in many ways, like 19th century and 18th century diplomacy, with states asserting their interests in different ways and with more economic players in the planet than we had in the 20th century with power and with a sense of independence. But what I want to emphasize to you all today is there is a way forward. This is not so daunting that it’s indescribable as to what we can do.

So how do we make our shared vision a reality for the region and ensure that Asia contributes to global peace and prosperity? First, we need to turn today’s economic nationalism and fragmentation into tomorrow’s sustainable growth. I say it all the time: Foreign Policy is economic policy, and economic policy is foreign policy. They are one and the same. There’s no denying that particularly in Asia Pacific. Asia Pacific is an engine of global economic growth, but we can’t take that growth for granted.

Because what we face something that is really a common challenge. Across the world, we have seen a staggering growth in youth populations. At the Africa summit it was just underscored to us there are 700 million people under the age of 30. We’ve seen staggering growth in these youth populations. And guess what. In the 21st century, in 2014 when everybody’s running around with a mobile device and everybody’s in touch with everybody every day all the time, all of these people are demanding an opportunity. They’re demanding dignity. And juxtaposed to their hopes, a cadre of extremists, of resisters, of naysayers are waiting to seduce many of those young people into accepting a dead end. And let me tell you, when people don’t have a job, when they can’t get an education, when they can’t aspire to a better future for themselves and for their families, when their voices are silenced by draconian laws or violence and oppression, we have all witnessed the instability that follows.

Now happily, many, if not most governments, in Asia are working to present booming youth populations with an alternative, with a quality education, with skills for the modern world, with jobs that allow them to build a life and a confidence in their countries. That is part of the reason why the young people in Asia are joining the ranks of the middle class, not the ranks of violent extremists. And the fact is that too many countries around the world are struggling to provide those opportunities. There’s a lack of governance, and we ignore the importance of this collective challenge to address the question of failed and failing states in other parts of the world.

In the 21st century, a nation’s interests and the well-being of its people are advanced not just by troops or diplomats, but they’re advanced by entrepreneurs, by chief executives of companies, by the businesses that are good corporate citizens, by the workers that they employ, by the students that they train, and the shared prosperity that they create. That is why we are working with partners across the Asia Pacific to maintain and raise standards as we expand trade and investment by pursuing a comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Now, the TPP represents really an exciting new chapter in the long history of America’s mutually beneficial trade partnerships with the countries of the Asia Pacific. It is a state-of-the-art, 21st century trade agreement, and it is consistent not just with our shared economic interests, but also with our shared values. It’s about generating growth for our economies and jobs for our people by unleashing a wave of trade, investment, and entrepreneurship. It’s about standing up for our workers, or protecting the environment, and promoting innovation. And it’s about reaching for high standards to guide the growth of this dynamic regional economy. And all of that is just plain good for businesses, it’s good for workers, it’s good for our economies. And that’s why we must get this done.

Now, every time I travel to Asia, I have the privilege of meeting with young entrepreneurs and business leaders. In fact, at the Africa summit the other day we had this wonderful group of young African leaders – all entrepreneurs, all these young kids in their 20s doing extraordinary things. It’s call the Young African Leaders Initiative, which President Obama started.

In Hanoi last December, I launched the Governance for Inclusive Growth Program to support Vietnam’s transition to a market-based economy. I’ve met with entrepreneurs in Seoul and Manila to talk about how we can drive innovation. On Saturday, I discussed with my ASEAN counterparts the framework for creating business opportunities and jobs that we call Expanded Economic Engagement, or E3. And just yesterday, I met with business leaders in Sydney, Australia to explore ways to reduce the barriers to trade and investment.

To broaden the base of support for this strategy, we need to focus not only on rapid growth, but we also need to focus on sustainability. And that means making the best use of regional institutions. President Obama will join APEC economic leaders in Beijing this fall to focus on promoting clean and renewable fuels and supporting small businesses and women’s participation in the economy and expanding educational exchanges. And just a few days ago, I met with ministers from the Lower Mekong Initiative countries to deepen our partnership and help them wrestle with the challenges of food and water and energy security on the Mekong River.

Ultimately, the true measure of our success will not be just whether our economies continue to grow, but how they continue to grow. And that brings me to our second challenge: We need to turn today’s climate crisis into tomorrow’s clean energy revolution. Now, all of this – all of us in this room understand climate change is not a crisis of the future. Climate change is here now. It’s happening, happening all over the world. It’s not a challenge that’s somehow remote and that people can’t grab onto.

But here’s the key: It’s happening at a rate that should be alarming to all of us because everything the scientists predicted – and I’ll tell you a little addendum. Al Gore – I had the privilege of working with Al Gore and Tim Worth and a group of senators – Jack Heinz – back in the 1980s when we held the first hearing on climate change in 1988. That’s when Jim Hansen from NASA came forward and said it’s happening. It’s happening now in 1988. In 1992 we had a forum down in Brazil, Rio, the Earth Summit. George Herbert Walker Bush participated. We came up with a voluntary framework to deal with climate change, but voluntary didn’t work. And for 20 years nothing much happened. Then we went to Kyoto. We went to all these places to try to do something, and here we are in 2014 with a chance next year in 2015 to do it.

And what’s happening is the science is screaming at us. Ask any kid in school. They understand what a greenhouse is, how it works, why we call it the greenhouse effect. They get it. And here’s what – if you accept the science, if you accept that the science is causing climate to change, you have to heed what those same scientists are telling us about how you prevent the inevitable consequences and impacts. You can’t – that’s why President Obama has made climate change a top priority. He’s doing by executive authority what we’re not able to get the Congress to do. And we’re working very hard to implement the Climate Action Plan and lead by example. We’re doubling the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks on America’s roads. We’ve developed new standards that ensure that existing power plants are as clean as possible and as efficient as possible. And we’re committed to reducing greenhouse gases and emissions in the range of about 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

So we’re heading in the right direction. But make no mistake about it: Our response has to be all hands on deck. By definition, rescuing the planet’s climate is a global challenge that requires a global solution. And nowhere is all of this more evident than in the Asia Pacific. And no two nations can have a greater impact or influence on this debate or this challenge than China and the United States.

During the Strategic and Economic Dialogue last month, Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew and I were in Beijing for two days. And we and China together sent a clear message: The world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters, the United States and China, are committed to advancing a low-carbon economic growth pattern and significantly reduce our countries’ greenhouse gases. And we’re working together to launch demonstration projects on carbon capture, utilization, and storage. We’re adopting stronger fuel efficiency standards for heavy- and light-duty vehicles. We’re advancing a new initiative on climate change and forests, because we know that the threat of deforestation and its implications of a changing climate are real and they’re grave and they’re growing. And I’ll just say to you this is not an issue on which you can be half pregnant. No such issue. If you accept the science, you have to accept that you have to do these things about it.

Now, the United States and China have a special role to play in reducing emissions and developing a clean energy future. But everybody – every nation – has a stake in getting it right. I just came from the Solomon Islands yesterday, a thousand islands, some of which could be wiped out if we don’t make the right choices. The Pacific Islands across the entire Pacific are vulnerable to climate change. And just yesterday, I saw with my own eyes what sea level rise would do to parts of it: It would be devastating – entire habitats destroyed, entire populations displaced from their homes, in some cases entire cultures wiped out. They just had flash flooding in Guadalcanal – unprecedented amounts of rainfall. And that’s what’s happened with climate change – unprecedented storms, unprecedented typhoons, unprecedented hurricanes, unprecedented droughts, unprecedented fires, major damage, billions and billions of dollars of damage being done that we’re paying for instead of investing those billions of dollars in avoiding this in the first place.

That’s why we are deepening our partnerships with the Pacific Island nations and others to meet immediate threats and long-term development challenges. And we’re working through USAID and other multilateral institutions to increase the resilience of communities. And we’re elevating our engagement through the Pacific Islands Forum. And we’ve signed maritime boundaries, new maritime boundaries with Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia in order to promote good governance of the Pacific Ocean and peaceful relations among island nations. And we’re also working on a Pacific Pathway of marine protected areas that includes President Obama’s commitment to explore a protected area of more than a million square miles in size in the U.S. remote Pacific.

We just held a conference on the oceans in Washington the other day with nations all over the world came to it – unbelievably productive. We produced $1.8 billion of commitments to help with fisheries enforcement, anti-pollution, dealing with acidification, and to protect these areas as marine sanctuaries.

The good news is in the end – and this really – it really is good news. Sometimes you have an issue – Mr. Mayor, I know you know this. Governors, you know this. You’re looking at an issue and, man, you scratch your head and you’re not quite sure what the solution is, right? And you work through it. Well, the good news is the biggest challenge of all that we face right now, which is climate change in terms of international global effect, is an opportunity. It’s actually an extraordinary opportunity because it’s not a problem without a solution. The solution to climate change is simple. It’s called energy policy. Energy policy. Make the right choices about how you produce your energy – without emissions, without coal-fired power plants that don’t have carbon capture and storage or aren’t burning clean – then you can begin to produce clean energy.

And the new energy market that we’re looking at is the biggest market the world has ever seen. Think about that for a moment. The wealth that was generated in the 1990s – I don’t know if you know this, but most people think that America got the richest during the 1920s when you had the so-called, even in the late 1800s, robber baron years, and then you had the great names of wealth – Carnegie, Mellon, Frick, Rockefeller, and so forth. And no income tax – wow, gonna make a lot of money.

Guess what. America made more wealth and more money for more people in the 1990s than at any other time in our history. And what it came from, the wealth that was generated then, was the high-tech computer revolution of the 1990s, and guess what. It came from a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users, 1 for 1. The energy market that we’re looking at in the world today is six times bigger, by far more important. It’s a $6 trillion market today with 4 to 5 billion users today, and it will go up to 7 to 9 billion users in the next 30 years. The fastest segment by far of growth in that market is clean energy.

We need to build a grid in America. We need to – we could use solar thermal to produce heat in Massachusetts, in Minnesota, take wind power from our states, sell it somewhere else. We can’t even do that because we don’t have that grid in place.

So I want to emphasize to all of you: We’re not going to find a sustainable energy mix in the 19th century or 20th century solutions. Those are the problems. We need a formula for 21st century that will sustainably power us into the 22nd century. And I believe that, working together, the United States and countries across the Asia Pacific can make this leap. That’s an exciting opportunity and that’s what we’re working on with China today.

The bottom line is we don’t have time to waste. If we’re going to power a clean energy revolution, we have to work together to dampen security competition and rivalry in the Asia Pacific and focus on these other constructive efforts. And so our third challenge is clear: We need to turn maritime conflicts into regional cooperation.

All of us in this room understand that these disputes in the South China Sea and elsewhere, they’re really about more than claims to islands and reefs and rocks and the economic interests that flow from them. They’re about whether might makes right or whether global rules and norms and rule of law and international law will prevail. I want to be absolutely clear: The United States of America takes no position on questions of sovereignty in the South and East China Sea, but we do care about how those questions are resolved. We care about behavior. We firmly oppose the use of intimidation and coercion or force to assert a territorial claim by anyone in the region. And we firmly oppose any suggestion that freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the sea and airspace are privileges granted by a big state to a small one. All claimants must work together to solve the claims through peaceful means, big or small. And these principles bind all nations equally, and all nations have a responsibility to uphold them.

Now, I just participated in the ASEAN Regional Forum, and we were encouraged there to – we encouraged the claimants there to defuse these tensions and to create the political space for resolution. We urged the claimants to voluntarily freeze steps that threatened to escalate the disputes and to cause instability. And frankly, I think that’s common sense and I suspect you share that. I’m pleased to say that ASEAN agreed that the time has come to seek consensus on what some of those actions to be avoided might be, based on the commitments that they’ve already made in the 2002 Declaration on Conduct.

Now, we cannot impose solutions on the claimants in the region, and we’re not seeking to do that. But the recent settlement between Indonesia and the Philippines is an example of how these disputes could be resolved through good-faith negotiations. Japan and Taiwan, likewise, showed last year that it’s possible to promote regional stability despite conflicting claims. And we support the Philippines’ taking steps to resolve its maritime dispute with China peacefully, including through the right to pursue arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. And while we already live by its principles, the United States needs to finish the job and pass that Treaty once and for all.

Now, one thing that I know will contribute to maintaining regional peace and stability is a constructive relationship between the United States and China. President Obama has made it clear that the United States welcomes the rise of a peaceful, prosperous, and stable China – one that plays a responsible role in Asia and the world and supports rules and norms on economic and security issues. The President has been clear, as have I, that we are committed to avoiding the trap of strategic rivalry and intent on forging a relationship in which we can broaden our cooperation on common interests and constructively manage our differences and disagreements.

But make no mistake: This constructive relationship, this “new model” relationship of great powers, is not going to happen simply by talking about it. It’s not going to happen by engaging in a slogan or pursuing a sphere of influence. It will be defined by more and better cooperation on shared challenges. And it will be defined by a mutual embrace of the rules, the norms, and institutions that have served both of our nations and the region so well. I am very pleased that China and the United States are cooperating effectively on the Iran nuclear talks and we’ve increased our dialogue on the DPRK. We’re also cooperating significantly on climate change possibilities, counter-piracy operations, and South Sudan.

So we are busy trying to define a great power relationship by the places where we can find mutual agreement and cooperation. We’ve seen the benefits of partnerships based on common values and common approaches to regional and global security. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and I met with our Australian counterparts in Sydney earlier this week and we reviewed the U.S.-Australian alliance from all sides. And though we live in very different hemispheres, obviously, and at opposite ends of the globe, the United States and Australia are today as close as nations can get. Our time-honored alliance has helped both of our countries to achieve important goals: standing with the people of Ukraine, supporting long-term progress in Afghanistan, promoting shared prosperity in the Asia Pacific, and collaborating on the United Nations Security Council. And we also agreed to expand our trilateral cooperation with Japan, and that will allow us to further modernize the U.S.-Japan alliance as we address a broader array of security challenges. Similarly, with our ally South Korea, our partnership on a growing range of regional and global challenges has brought much greater security to Asia and beyond.

History shows us that countries whose policies respect and reflect universal human rights and fundamental freedoms are likely to be peaceful and prosperous, far more effective at tapping the talents of their people, and far better partners in the long term.

That is why our fourth and final challenge is so important: We need to turn human rights problems into opportunities for human empowerment. Across the region, there are bright spots. But we also see backsliding, such as the setback to democracy in Thailand.

We all know that some countries in the region hold different views on democratic governance and the protection of human rights. But though we may sometimes disagree on these issues with the governments, I don’t think we have any fundamental disagreement with their people.

Given a choice, I don’t think too many young people in China would choose to have less access to uncensored information, rather than more. I don’t think too many people in Vietnam would say: “I’d rather not be allowed to organize and speak out for better working conditions or a healthy environment.” And I can’t imagine that anyone in Asia would watch more than a 130 million people go to the polls in Indonesia to choose a president after a healthy, vigorous, and peaceful debate and then say: “I don’t want that right for myself.” I also think most people would agree that freedom of speech and the press is essential to checking corruption, and it is essential that rule of law is needed to protect innovation and to enable businesses to thrive. That’s why support for these values is both universal and pragmatic.

I visited Indonesia in February, and I saw the promise of a democratic future. The world’s third largest democracy sets a terrific example for the world. And the United States is deeply committed to our comprehensive partnership. Indonesia is not just an expression of different cultures and languages and faiths. By deepening its democracy, and preserving its traditions of tolerance, it can be a model for how Asian values and democratic principles inform and strengthen one another.

In Thailand, a close friend and ally, we’re very disturbed by the setback to democracy and we hope it is a temporary bump in the road. We call on the Thai authorities to lift restrictions on political activity and speech, to return – to restore civilian rule, and return quickly to democracy through free and fair elections.

In Burma last week, I saw firsthand the initial progress the people and the government have made. And I’m proud of the role – and you should be too – that the United States has played for a quarter of a century in encouraging that progress.

But Burma still has a long way to go, and those leading its democratic transformation are only now addressing the deepest challenges: Defining a new role for the military; reforming the constitution and supporting free and fair elections; ending a decades-long civil war; and guaranteeing in law the human rights that Burma’s people have been promised in name. All of this while trying to attract more investment, combating corruption, protecting the country’s forests and other resources. These are the great tests of Burma’s transition. And we intend to try to help, but in the end the leadership will have to make the critical choices.

The United States is going to do everything we can to help the reformers in Burma, especially by supporting nationwide elections next year. And we will keep urging the government – as I did last week – to take steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine state, and push back against hate speech and religious violence, implement constitutional reform, and protect freedom of assembly and expression. The government owes it to the people of those – of that movement to do those things.

And so, my friends, in the great tradition of our country, we will continue to promote human rights and democracy in Asia, without arrogance but also without apology.

Elsewhere in Asia, North Korea’s proliferation activities pose a very serious threat to the United States, the region, and the world. And we are taking steps to deter and defend against North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile capability. But make no mistake: We are also speaking out about the horrific human rights situation. We strongly supported the extraordinary United Nations investigation this year that revealed the utter, grotesque cruelty of North Korea’s system of labor camps and executions. Such deprivation of human dignity just has no place in the 21st century. North Korea’s gulags should be shut down – not tomorrow, not next week, but now. And we will continue to speak out on this topic.

So you’ve heard me for longer than you might have wanted to – (laughter) – describing a pretty ambitious agenda. And you’re right; it’s a big deal. We are super engaged. We are ambitious for this process: completing the TPP negotiations, creating sustainable growth, powering a clean energy revolution, managing regional rivalries by promoting cooperation, and empowering people from all walks of life – that’s how we’re going to realize the promise of the Asia Pacific. And this is a region whose countries can and should come together, because there is much more that unites us than divides us. This is a region that can and should meet danger and difficulty with courage and collaboration. And we are determined to deliver on the strategic and historic opportunities that we can create together.

That’s why, together with our Asian partners, we’re developing modern rules for a changing world – rules that help economies grow strong and fair and just, with protections for the environment, safeguards for the people who have both too often been left behind.

That’s why we’re building a region where Asia’s major cities are no longer clouded with smog and smoke, and where people can depend on safe food and water, and clean oceans, clean air, and shared resources from its rivers and its oceans, and with a sense of responsibility one generation passes on to the next to preserve all of that for the future.

That’s why we’re building a region where countries peacefully resolve their differences over islands, reefs, rocks by finding the common ground on the basis of international law.

And that’s why we’re building a region that protects the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms that make all nations stronger.

There is still a long road ahead. But nothing gives me more hope in the next miles of the journey than the courage of those who have reached a different and more hopeful kind of future. And that is the story that I want to leave you with today.

When I became a senator, getting increasingly more and more involved in the region as a young member of the committee and then later as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs, the first trip I took in 1986 was to the Philippines. Strongman Ferdinand Marcos had called a sham “snap” election to fake everybody to prove how in charge he was, to preserve his grasp on power. President Reagan asked Senator Richard Lugar and me to be part of a delegation to observe those elections.

And I will never forget arriving in Manila and seeing this unbelievable flood of people in the streets all decked out in their canary yellow shirts and banners of pro-democracy protest. Some of us knew at that time there were allegations of fraud. I was sent down initially to Mindanao to observe the morning votes and then came back to Manila, and was sitting in the hotel there when a woman came up to me crying and said, “Senator, you must come with me to the cathedral. There are women there who fear for their lives.”

And I left my dinner and I ran down to the cathedral. I came in to the Sacristi of the cathedral and talked with these 13 women who were crying and huddled together, intimidated for their lives. And I listened to their story about how they were counting the raw tally of the votes that was coming in from all across the nation, but the raw tally of votes they were counting was not showing up on the computer tote board recording the votes. They blew the whistle on a dictator. We held an international press conference right there in the cathedral right in front of the alter, and they spoke out, and that was the signal to Marcos it was over. Their courage and the courage of the Filipino people lit a spark that traveled throughout the world, inspiring not just a freshman senator from Massachusetts, but popular movements from Eastern Europe to Burma.

Now, I think about that moment even today, about the power of people to make their voices felt. I think about how Cory Aquino rose to the presidency atop a wave of people power when few believed that she could. I think about how her husband fought for democracy, even at the cost of his own life. And I think about how, decades later, their son would rise to the presidency in democratic elections. In his inaugural address, President Benigno Aquino said: “My parents sought nothing less, died for nothing less, than democracy and peace. I am blessed by this legacy. I shall carry the torch forward.”

My friends, today we must all summon up some of that courage, we must all carry that torch forward. The cause of democracy and peace, and the prosperity that they bring, can bring our legacy in the Asian Pacific, it can define it. Our commitment to that future, believe me it is strong. Our principles are just. And we are in this for the long haul – clear-eyed about the challenges ahead.

Thank you. (Applause.)

Press Releases: Joint Communique AUSMIN 2014

Begin Text:

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met on 12 August in Sydney for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN).

On the 29th anniversary of the first AUSMIN, the talks reaffirmed the Alliance’s important contribution to the peace, security, and prosperity of the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions as well as its enduring value in addressing contemporary and evolving challenges in the regions and throughout the world. The Alliance is a cornerstone of our strong and dynamic bilateral relationship, which is based on shared values and close friendship.

1. The Australia-United States Alliance

Australia and the United States reaffirmed the strong state of bilateral defence and security cooperation under the Alliance, as demonstrated through a decade of operations together in Afghanistan and Iraq.

With the signature today of the legally-binding Force Posture Agreement between Australia and the United States, we reaffirmed our commitment to work towards full implementation of the Force Posture Initiatives in Australia. The agreement provides a robust policy and legal framework and financial principles for implementation of the force posture initiatives announced in 2011. It demonstrates the United States’ strong commitment to the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions and Australia’s firm support for the US rebalance. The agreement also reaffirms our mutual intent to deepen our relationship and regional security through expanded cooperation together and with other countries in the region.

Australia and the United States welcomed the larger US Marine Corps presence under the third rotational deployment currently in Darwin and discussed the way forward for enhanced aircraft cooperation. They discussed the potential for additional bilateral naval cooperation and welcomed the significant, wide-ranging series of port visits planned for 2015. They also asked their respective officials to develop practical options to enhance naval training and exercises in Australia and the region.

Acknowledging the high-level of interoperability between Australian and US Special Forces, both sides supported fostering these links to address shared threats and enhance capacity within the region.

The two countries committed to continue to work together to counter the growing threat of ballistic missiles in the Asia Pacific region, including by establishing a bilateral working group to examine options for potential Australian contributions to ballistic missile defence in the region.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their intention to continue strategic planning collaboration between their respective defence departments, to develop common approaches to regional security challenges, and to harness opportunities for greater defence cooperation across the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

They highlighted the importance of the bilateral Exercise Talisman Sabre to continue to enhance Australia-US interoperability, practise our joint collective capabilities, and demonstrate mutual resolve in maintaining joint defence readiness under the Alliance. They emphasised the importance of civilian agency participation in the Exercise and the desire to strengthen our capacity to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and incorporate ‘women, peace and security’ objectives into our combined planning. They planned to hold the next round of the bilateral Political-Military Talks at the earliest opportunity.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to practical space cooperation, encouraged by recent steps towards establishing combined operations. They welcomed the significant progress made toward establishing the C-Band space surveillance radar and the Space Surveillance Telescope in Australia. They reiterated support for regional and global efforts to strengthen the safety, security and sustainability of space, including finalising the International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities.

Australia and the United States welcomed continued high-level bilateral cooperation on defence science and technology. The rise of increasingly sophisticated and complex threat environments, combined with continued resource pressures, makes the development of affordable capabilities an imperative. This includes diverse areas such as cyber, electronic warfare, hypersonics, as well as integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technologies.

Australia and the United States reflected on defence industry collaboration between the two countries. Over the last decade, Australia has agreed to purchase important capabilities from the United States, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, EA-18G Growler, P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft and E-7A Wedgetail early warning aircraft. These shared platforms and capabilities provide opportunities to maintain and enhance bilateral interoperability.

Both countries emphasised that international law, including the United Nations Charter and, where relevant, international humanitarian law, applies to state conduct in cyberspace and reaffirmed that Australia and the United States would act in accordance with their obligations.

Both countries welcomed the expansion of bilateral trade and investment, driven by the strong affinities between our economies. They noted the dynamism and diversity in the economic relationship, including the significant level of business engagement across a broad spectrum of economic activity. Both countries looked forward to celebrating the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement on 1 January 2015. The Agreement has deepened economic integration and boosted both economies.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed the importance of their people-to-people ties. The two countries also noted this year as the 65th anniversary of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, which has supported the professional growth of close to 5,000 students and scholars, and enriched bilateral relations.

Both countries welcomed the growth in cooperation on innovation, energy, science, technology and health. Bilateral innovation cooperation will strengthen our work on cutting edge issues, ranging from neuroscience to clean energy and energy efficiency, to research on global ocean acidification, to information technology and bio-preparedness.

2. Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to comprehensive engagement in the rapidly developing Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. Australia expressed support for the United States’ role in underpinning the regions’ security, stability and prosperity. The United States welcomed the important contribution that Australia’s wide-ranging engagement in those regions continues to make to security and stability.

They recognised regional economic integration and development as essential to the future prosperity of Australia and the United States, and of the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions as a whole. They supported economic initiatives that foster growth and market openness, and deepen economic integration in those regions and globally.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their strong commitment to concluding an ambitious, high quality, comprehensive Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP) as soon as possible. This will deepen regional integration, open new trade and investment opportunities, create jobs, and support economic growth.

They pledged to work closely in support of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) agenda to advance economic integration across the Asia Pacific region, especially in the areas of trade and investment liberalisation, structural reform and regulatory coherence, enhancing global value chains, improving supply-chain performance, combating corruption, promoting cross-border education cooperation, and women’s economic empowerment.

Australia and the United States shared their views that the East Asia Summit (EAS) is the premier regional forum for dialogue and cooperation on the political, security, strategic and relevant economic challenges confronting the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. They will work more closely together, and with EAS partners, in continuing to enhance the EAS’ role, through deepening its agenda on maritime security, non-proliferation and disaster response, and building synergies with other regional forums.

Australia and the United States welcomed the practical cooperation fostered under the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and expect to cooperate closely to ensure an open dialogue on key regional security issues. They intend to build confidence through maritime security and maritime domain awareness, non-proliferation and disarmament, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter-terrorism, space and cyber security. Both countries strongly supported the ARF’s work on preventive diplomacy and also noted their partnership in encouraging the ARF and ADMM+ to develop a regional strategic multi-year exercise plan to coordinate and improve the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities. They reaffirmed their support for the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF) as an important avenue for regional discussion of maritime issues. They are working closely together in taking forward a workshop on maritime environmental pollution in October 2014 under the US-led Expanded ASEAN Seafarer Training (EAST) initiative.

The two countries underscored their shared interest in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce, and upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the East China and the South China Seas. They called on claimants to refrain from actions that could increase tensions and to clarify and pursue claims in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention. They reaffirmed support for the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes, including through legal mechanisms such as arbitration under the Law of the Sea Convention. They opposed unilateral attempts to change facts on the ground or water through the threat or use of force or coercion.

The two countries emphasised the need for South China Sea claimant states to build upon the framework for managing disputes set forth in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, including the commitment of ASEAN states and China to “undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.” They encouraged claimant states to reach consensus on what types of activities should be permissible and what types of activities should be avoided in areas that are in dispute. They underscored that such a voluntary arrangement would serve as a good faith gesture among all parties and could help facilitate the early completion of a meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. The United States and Australia affirmed their support for a voluntary ‘freeze’ by claimants on activities in disputed maritime areas.

Australia and the United States acknowledged the significance of Indonesia’s third direct presidential election. They recognised the significant contributions of outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in leading his country, and welcomed Indonesia’s leadership role in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. Both countries look forward to working closely with Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo and his administration after his inauguration in October. They affirmed their desire to seek opportunities to enhance joint cooperation with Indonesia on defence as well as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Affirming the longstanding and enduring friendship among Australia, the United States and the people of Thailand, both countries recognised that Thailand faced complex challenges that only the Thai people could address. They noted that Australia and the United States had expressed concern about the military coup. They looked forward to a transition to civilian rule and a return to democracy, stressing the importance of inclusive processes which reflect the will of the Thai people. They also stressed the importance of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Australia and the United States welcomed Burma’s commitment to political, economic and social reforms and encouraged further efforts towards constitutional reform, free and fair elections in 2015, and protecting the rights of all people in Burma. They also welcomed ongoing efforts to reach a nationwide ceasefire with ethnic armed groups and encouraged an inclusive political dialogue with stakeholders to achieve a lasting peace. They acknowledged steps that Burma has taken regarding non-proliferation, including its signature of the Additional Protocol with the IAEA in September 2013, and agreed on the importance of Burma severing all proscribed activities with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in accordance with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. They supported Burma’s deepening engagement with the international community and acknowledged its chairmanship of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in 2014.

Australia and the United States welcomed Japan’s efforts to make a greater contribution to international peace and stability, including through its decision to allow for the exercise of its UN Charter right to collective self-defence. They undertook to maintain strong bilateral security relationships with Japan and committed to enhance trilateral security and defence cooperation, including through the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and further developing existing trilateral exercises.

The two countries committed to intensify their collaboration with the Republic of Korea to promote stability on the Korean Peninsula, in the wider region and globally, through expanded trilateral security and defence cooperation and by working together in bodies such as the UN Security Council, including on peacekeeping, counter-proliferation, maritime cooperation and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to building positive and constructive relations with China, including by pursuing dialogue on strategic security issues and by expanding practical cooperation in support of their common interest in maintaining regional peace and stability, and respect for international law. They will endeavour to strengthen their comprehensive and cooperative relations with China, including through stronger economic engagement, and to encourage China to make further progress in respect for human rights. They welcomed China’s contributions to United Nations peacekeeping operations and international efforts to combat piracy in the Gulf of Aden, as well as its participation in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC). They looked forward to joining China for the inaugural iteration of Exercise Kowari, a trilateral defence exercise to be conducted in Australia in October.

Australia and the United States underscored their serious concern that Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) behaviour undermined the stability of the entire region and called on the DPRK to cease its threats and provocations, comply with its international commitments and obligations, including by abandoning its nuclear, missile and proliferation activities. They expressed their deep concern for the welfare of the North Korean people and the abducted citizens of other countries, called on the DPRK to implement the UN Commission of Inquiry’s recommendations for ending the ongoing systematic, widespread, and extreme violations of human rights, and reiterated that those responsible must be held to account.

Both countries welcomed their close cooperation with affected countries in the region and beyond during the initial surface search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. This joint effort was a powerful example of regional cooperation. Australia, Malaysia and China continue the search, with an intensive underwater search of 60,000 km2 due to start in early September after a bathymetric survey.

Australia and the United States recognised India’s position as the world’s largest democracy and an important economic and strategic power in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. They intend to work with India to expand trilateral cooperation, including on shared challenges such as maritime security, energy security, and ensuring economic growth, and through collaboration in regional institutions.

They recognised the important role that the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) played as the only ministerial-level grouping that spans the Indian Ocean region. They intend to continue to support IORA’s work to facilitate closer cooperation in the Indian Ocean region. As IORA Chair, Australia reaffirmed its intention to develop a stronger policy agenda for IORA and welcomed the United States’ participation as a Dialogue Partner at the Council of Ministers Meeting to be held in Perth on 9 October.

The two countries expect to further enhance maritime security cooperation, including combating piracy and promoting regional security, stability and freedom of navigation, by working closely together under the US-led Combined Maritime Forces in the Indian Ocean and through the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia (ReCAAP), which the United States will join in September.

Australia and the United States encouraged Fiji’s progress toward holding elections on 17 September. They will continue to work together with other international partners to support elections and democratic reforms in Fiji.

They reaffirmed their commitment to assist the Pacific Island countries in realising their goal of a stable, secure and prosperous region. They welcomed the adoption of a new Framework for Pacific Regionalism by Pacific Islands Forum Leaders at their July meeting. Both countries welcomed the election of Dame Meg Taylor of Papua New Guinea as the first female Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

They undertook to continue to work together in pursuit of the sustainable management of oceans and fisheries, which are among the key development challenges in the Pacific and globally. They reaffirmed their commitment to cooperative efforts to address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Australia and the United States will endeavour to continue to provide development assistance that fosters economic growth and prosperity in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. They intend to continue supporting development programs that reduce poverty by promoting innovation, gender equality, education and health, and collaborate on the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their shared commitment to advance gender equality and the status of women and girls. In particular, they recognised that women’s economic empowerment is a significant driver of growth and development, and planned to work together to promote women’s employment and economic opportunity, particularly in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

3. Global challenges

Australia and the United States plan to work together through the G20 toward achieving their shared goals of promoting strong, sustainable, and balanced global economic growth and employment, and increasing the resilience of the global economy, including by strengthening infrastructure investment, enhancing trade and building cooperation on energy, including on energy efficiency. The United States shared Australia’s ambition for G20 members to boost the collective GDP of members by more than two per cent above current projections over the next five years.

Recognising the challenges climate change poses to security, Australia and the United States intend to continue to work through the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process to negotiate a new, ambitious climate agreement applicable to all countries by 2015 to take effect in 2020.

The United States welcomed Australia’s engagement on the Global Health Security Agenda, which seeks to accelerate progress toward a world safe and secure from infectious disease threats and to promote global health security as an international security priority.

The United States welcomed Australia’s strong contribution during its term on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and our shared efforts to reach constructive and practical solutions to international peace and security issues. Both countries are continuing to work closely to tackle serious challenges before the Council, including the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Syria, protection of civilians in conflict zones, effective implementation of sanctions, countering the international terrorist threat and regional weapons proliferation.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea has no basis in international law.

Both countries condemned Russia’s support for and enabling of the continued destabilisation of eastern Ukraine; destabilisation which led to the shooting down of a passenger airliner, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing all 298 on board. Both countries affirmed their commitment to completing a full international investigation into the attack¬¬– an appalling tragedy and terrible act of senseless violence – including through implementation of UNSC Resolution 2166 on MH17.

Australia and the United States condemned in the strongest possible terms the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed opposition groups in Iraq. They welcomed the nomination of Dr Haider al-Abadi as Prime Minister-designate, and encouraged him to form a new and inclusive Iraqi Government as soon as possible. They called on all Iraqi leaders to work closely together and adopt a unified approach to addressing the country’s challenges. The two countries indicated their deep concern about recent developments in northern Iraq and their commitment to work together and with other partners to undertake humanitarian operations to relieve besieged communities and to combat the threat posed by ISIL.

The two countries discussed the worsening humanitarian, social and political crisis in Syria and reaffirmed the urgent need for a political solution to the conflict consistent with the Geneva Communiqué. They also called for all nations to cooperate in applying pressure to those responsible for the crisis, the Assad regime and violent radical extremists, and to provide humanitarian aid for the civilian population suffering from the conflict. They expressed their intention to continue to work through the UNSC to press the parties to the conflict, and particularly the Syrian regime, to adhere to the provisions of UNSC Resolution 2139 on the protection of civilians and humanitarian access and UNSC Resolution 2165 on humanitarian access.

They intend to continue to work closely together and with the international community to address the national security risks posed by foreign fighters in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the impact of their return, particularly in Southeast Asia. They will work together also in developing a set of established best practices for addressing this threat at the national level, including through legislation, border security, immigration and consular policies.

Australia and the United States reaffirmed their intention to continue assisting the Government of Afghanistan as it assumes full responsibility for the security of Afghanistan post-2014 and works to increase stability and prosperity. They welcomed the commitment of the parties to form a government of national unity.

They acknowledged the importance of Pakistan to South Asian stability and welcomed Prime Minister Sharif’s commitment to economic reform. They committed to continue to work with Pakistan to help it address ongoing security and development challenges, including its critical energy needs.

Australia and the United States called on Iran to continue engaging constructively with the P5+1 to negotiate a joint comprehensive plan of action to resolve international concerns about its nuclear program, and called on Iran to resolve all outstanding issues related to its nuclear program – particularly those concerning its possible military dimensions – and fully and urgently to implement Iran’s Framework for Cooperation agreed with the International Atomic Energy Agency. They urged Iran to take tangible steps to improve the country’s human rights situation and to cooperate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur.

Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to working with Israel and the Palestinians, the United Nations and international partners to support the resumption of direct negotiations towards a just and lasting two-state solution. They expressed the need for an unconditional, prolonged ceasefire that significantly de-escalates the violence and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities. Both countries are providing urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Gaza in addition to carrying through with existing commitments for development assistance to the Palestinian Territories.

The two countries called on Egypt to demonstrate its commitment to inclusive democracy, economic reform, human rights and fundamental freedoms in the interests of long-term stability. They expressed their deep disappointment about the recent decision by an Egyptian court to impose lengthy jail sentences on journalists, including Australian reporter Peter Greste. They pledged to continue representations at senior levels of the Egyptian Government to underline their concerns about the restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt, including the targeting of journalists simply for doing their jobs. They called for the resolution of these cases as soon as possible.

Australia and the United States continued to support counter-terrorism cooperation and capacity building in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Africa, and through the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum. Australia and the United States reaffirmed intelligence cooperation and sharing as core elements of the Alliance that make a vital contribution to managing threats.

They reaffirmed their shared commitment to continue to work closely and cooperatively to help prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. The use of chemical weapons in Syria served as a stark reminder of the gravity of this threat and the two sides reiterated their condemnation of Syria’s actions. They noted the contributions of the annual Australia-US Counterproliferation Dialogue in coordinating responses to proliferation threats in the Southeast Asia region and elsewhere, and committed to continue to put priority on this cooperation in the future.

The two countries encouraged the earliest entry into force and effective implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), while recognising that the international trade in arms is a legitimate commercial activity. The ATT provides an important means of preventing and eradicating illicit trade in small arms.

4. AUSMIN 2015

The United States offered to host the next AUSMIN meeting in 2015.

End Text

Press Releases: Fourth Friends of the Lower Mekong Ministerial Meeting Joint Statement

Begin Text:

On August 9, 2014, the U.S. Secretary of State and the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Cambodia, Japan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam, the Managing Director of the EU, and senior representatives of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank joined the ASEAN Secretary-General in NayPyiTaw, Myanmar for the fourth Friends of the Lower Mekong (FLM) Ministerial Meeting. FLM advances sustainable and equitable growth and narrows the development gap within ASEAN through jointly coordinated development assistance.

At the Meeting, Ministers noted that the Mekong River is a powerful economic engine that underpins much of the economic growth and vitality of Southeast Asia. Sustaining broad-based economic growth will require smart infrastructure, responsive institutions, and resilient natural systems. Ministers agreed to continue to focus FLM on delivering a sustainable future for the Mekong, with special focus given to this issue in the lead-up to the ASEAN Economic Community to be realized in 2015. Ministers underlined that building partnerships at the local, national, regional, and inter-regional levels is critical to addressing Mekong development and water-related challenges. Ministers also called for stronger cooperation on regional connectivity, sustainable water resources management, and environmental matters and agreed that transforming emerging challenges of the water, energy, and food security nexus into opportunities for growth and sustainable development is a shared priority.

To that end, Ministers committed to working together with donors, ASEAN, the Mekong River Commission, and other regional institutions to promote complementary efforts in the sub-region. Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to promote sustainable approaches to development; support the implementation of standards, safeguards, and economic and scientific analysis to maximize the positive benefits of infrastructure development; build technical capacity of regional institutions; and mobilize new investments necessary to achieve long-term economic growth, such as green infrastructure, clean energy, climate-smart agriculture, and platforms to foster innovation. Ministers also agreed to explore opportunities for further dialogue in the near-term, and agreed to seek increased involvement of private sector and other LMI development partners in future dialogues. Ministers also encourage greater scientific, technical, and financial support of the developing partners for narrowing the development gap among ASEAN members in general and among Mekong partner countries in particular.

Ministers welcomed the concerted efforts of all FLM Members to advance sustainable development in the sub-region and to jointly support regional development priorities. Ministers welcomed several examples of successful joint collaboration, including Japan’s commitment to support the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) women’s entrepreneurship network called Women’s Entrepreneurial Center for Research, Education, Access, and Training for Economic Empowerment (WECREATE). Ministers also welcomed efforts to coordinate between sub-regional frameworks, as is the case with the United States’ and Japan’s commitment to closer collaboration between Mekong-Japan cooperation and LMI, coordination between the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and LMI, and between the ADB’s Greater Mekong Sub-Region program and LMI. Ministers noted that collaboration among FLM Members should seek to improve sustainability, strengthen regional capacity, support development of scientific data and analysis, and promote smart infrastructure development.

Ministers agreed that a future “Extraordinary Meeting” that includes member country officials from appropriate line ministries could explore the theme of advancing sustainable development in the Lower Mekong sub-region.

Heads of Delegation:

1. Union Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Wunna Maung Lwin (co-chair)

2. Secretary of State of the United States of America John Kerry (co-chair)

3. Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia Hor Namhong

4. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic Thongloun Sisoulith

5. Acting Foreign Minister of Thailand Sihasak Phuangketkeow

6. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Viet Nam Pham Binh Minh

7. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia Julie Bishop

8. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan Fumio Kishida

9. Senior Official of New Zealand Alison Mann

10. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea Yun Byung-se

11. Managing Director of the External Action Service of the European Union Viorel Isticioaia-Budura

12. Cambodia Country Director of the Asian Development Bank Eric Sidgwick

13. Lead Economist of the World Bank Claudia Sadoff

14. Secretary-General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh

EU launches negotiations on environmental trade agreement

European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 9 July 2014

EU launches negotiations on environmental trade agreement

Today the EU, together with 13 other WTO members (Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and the US) have formally opened plurilateral negotiations in the WTO on liberalization of trade in so-called ’green goods’.

At the first stage, the members of this initiative will aim to eliminate tariffs or customs duties on a broad list of green goods that help clean the air and water, help manage waste, are energy efficient, control air pollution, and help generate renewable energy like solar, wind, or hydroelectric. At the second stage, the negotiations could also address non-tariff barriers and environmental services. The EU is particularly interested to reduce barriers to trade in services ancillary to goods exported. E.g. to produce wind energy, it is not enough just to buy the wind turbine: companies also need to have access to the maintenance and engineering services necessary to keep it running smoothly in the world of global value chains.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht welcomed the opening of the negotiations: “This initiative is a win-win for the economy and the environment. It is an excellent example of how trade policy can have a positive impact on green growth, green jobs, sustainable development, and climate change. Looking beyond the obvious benefits for the planet, green trade means green growth for our companies – the world leaders in environmental technologies – and green jobs for EU citizens.”

The green goods negotiations have started as planned after few months of preparations since the launch of the Green Goods Initiative in January this year. The group of WTO Members will engage now in intensive negotiations meeting regularly in Geneva and discussing the substance of the agreement, i.a. product coverage and the approach on non-tariff barriers to trade and services. The joint statement issued on this occasions highlights the need for “the timely conclusion of the agreement” given the urgency of environmental challenges, including climate change. This initiative is expected to provide impetus to the DDA negotiations.

Background

The EU has been a long-standing advocate for removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade in environmental goods and services in the WTO as well as in its bilateral and regional free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations.

On 24 January 2014 the EU, together with 13 other WTO members (Australia, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong (China), Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, Singapore and the US) pledged to launch negotiations to liberalise global trade in environmental goods – the so called “green goods initiative”. Collectively, the group account for around 86% of the world trade in green goods.

The EU has technologically advanced and world-class companies providing environmental goods and services. There has been considerable job creation in the green sector, i.e. an increase from 3 to 4.2 million in full-time equivalents between 2002 and 2011 across the EU. Employment in the sector grew by 20% even during the recession years (2007 to 2011). In terms of trade, the EU is a world leader both in terms of export and import of environmental goods, and is followed by China and other APEC members.

Joint Statement regarding the launch of the environmental goods agreements negotiations

U.S.-China Relations

Introduction

Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Corker, Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today on U.S.-China relations. It is also a great honor to be participating in today’s hearing with one of our nation’s most accomplished diplomats, Ambassador Stapleton Roy – a friend, former colleague, and one of the foremost experts on U.S.-China relations. Ambassador Roy’s contributions to the U.S.-China relationship have been invaluable, and I look forward to hearing his insights.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership and to acknowledge this Committee’s contributions to the rich bipartisan tradition of engaging China. I have found it extremely valuable to work closely with the Committee’s Members, and in particular with the Asia Sub-committee, in advancing U.S. interests vis-à-vis China and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole.

Overall Bilateral Relations

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the United States and China. We have made remarkable progress since the era of back-channel messaging and secret trips. The scope of today’s U.S.-China relationship was unimaginable when President Nixon made his historic visit in 1972 to China.

Yet there is still enormous potential for progress in the U.S.-China relationship. Progress that will yield benefits to the citizens of both countries, our neighbors, and the world. To realize this progress and these benefits, we seek to ensure that the relationship is not defined by strategic rivalry, but by fair and healthy competition, by practical cooperation on priority issues, and by constructive management of our differences and disagreements. Where interests overlap, we will seek to expand cooperation with China. These areas include economic prosperity, a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue, and a reduction in the emission of greenhouse gases. Where they diverge – and we have significant and well-known areas of disagreement – we will work to ensure that our differences are constructively managed.

Mr. Chairman, there are those who argue that cold war-like rivalry is inevitable and that the United States and China are condemned to a zero-sum struggle for supremacy, if not conflict. I reject such mechanistic thinking. As anyone who has served in government can tell you, this deterministic analysis overlooks the role of leaders who have the ability to set policy and to shape relationships. It gives short shrift to the fact that our two economies are becoming increasingly intertwined, which increases each side’s stake in the success of the other. It undervalues the fact that leaders in Washington and Beijing are fully cognizant of the risk of unintended strategic rivalry between an emerging power and an established power and have agreed to take deliberate actions to prevent such an outcome. And it ignores the reality of the past 35 years – that, in spite of our differences, U.S.-China relations have steadily grown deeper and stronger – and in doing so, we have built a very resilient relationship.

We view China’s economic growth as complementary to the region’s prosperity, and China’s expanded role in the region can be complementary to the sustained U.S. strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific. We and our partners in the region want China’s rise to contribute to the stability and continued development of the region. As President Obama and Secretary Kerry have made very clear, we do not seek to contain China; to the contrary, we welcome the emergence of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous China. We believe all countries, and particularly emerging powers like China, should recognize the self-benefit of upholding basic rules and norms on which the international system is built; these are rules and norms which China has participated in formulating and shaping, and they are rules and norms that it continues to benefit from. In this context, we are encouraging China to exercise restraint in dealing with its neighbors and show respect for universal values and international law both at home and abroad.

A key element of our approach to the Asia-Pacific region, often called the rebalance, is strengthening America’s alliances and partnerships in the region. This contributes directly to the stable security environment that has underpinned the region’s – and China’s – dramatic economic growth and development.

A second element is working to build up regional institutions in order to uphold the international rules-based system and create platforms for the countries and leaders to work on priority strategic, economic, and other issues. These institutions help develop habits of cooperation and promote respect for the interests of all parties.

A third key element has been expanding and deepening our relationships with important emerging countries such as China, including through regular and high-level dialogue.

In just two weeks, our countries will hold the sixth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue – the “S&ED” – in Beijing. This annual dialogue is unique in its level and scope. It is led on the U.S. side by Secretaries Kerry and Lew and brings a number of Cabinet-level and other senior U.S. government officials together with their Chinese counterparts to work on the major issues facing us. The breadth of the agenda in the two tracks – strategic and economic – reflects the breadth of modern U.S.-China relations. The S&ED is an important vehicle for making progress in the pursuit of a cooperative and constructive relationship; for building a “new model” that disproves the thesis that the United States and China are somehow destined for strategic rivalry and confrontation.

The S&ED is an important forum for the United States and China to take stock of and set goals for the bilateral relationship, to review regional and international developments and explain our respective policies, to coordinate and seek practical areas of cooperation on important issues of mutual interest, and to constructively manage areas of difference through candid, high-level discussions.

Let me preview of some of the topics for upcoming discussions at this year’s S&ED:

  • We will exchange views and explore prospects for progress on regional challenges, including Sudan, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Ukraine, Iraq, and maritime disputes in the South and East China Seas;
  • The world’s two largest economies will work on strengthening the global economic recovery;
  • The world’s two biggest energy consumers and carbon emitters will work on combating climate change, and expand cooperation on clean energy;
  • We will discuss global challenges ranging from cyber security to counterterrorism to wildlife trafficking, and the United States will raise our concerns over human rights;
  • Secretary Kerry will co-chair the annual U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, which supports exchange programs that build the foundation for mutual understanding and trust;
  • And Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and his Chinese counterpart will hold the U.S.-China Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD), our highest-ranking joint civilian-military exchange with China, where we will conduct frank discussions on some of the most sensitive strategic issues in the relationship.

The S&ED and our numerous other dialogues and official exchanges with the Chinese each year reflect the importance we attach to managing this relationship. This level and pace of engagement show the commitment of both sides to producing tangible benefits for our two peoples, the Asia-Pacific region, and the global community.

The United States and China have a vital stake in each other’s success. That is why we maintain an intensive schedule of engagement; President Obama and President Xi met in Sunnylands, California, a year ago and have met twice more since then. The President plans to visit Beijing in November when China hosts APEC. Secretary Kerry, as well as numerous Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials, have visited China already in 2014 and have met with Chinese counterparts in the United States or at international fora.

We work with China in virtually all important international arenas, including the UN, the G20, the East Asia Summit, and APEC where we are cooperating closely on regulatory transparency, supply chain efficiencies, promoting clean and renewable energy, cross-border education, and combatting corruption and bribery. Our relationship touches on nearly every regional and global issue, and, as such, requires sustained, high-level attention. Moreover, few of these issues can be effectively addressed if China and the United States do not cooperate.

Economic Relations

Economic issues play a central role in the U.S.-China relationship. China’s economic success has added to our growth and increased the purchasing power of consumers in the United States. Our two-way trade has almost quadrupled since China joined the WTO in late 2001. While the long-standing imbalance in that trade remains troubling, China is now one of the fastest growing U.S. export markets. In fact, U.S. exports to China grew by more than 90 percent between 2007 and 2013. In our bilateral engagements, we are encouraging economic reforms within China to ensure not only that its economic behavior is sustainable on its own terms, but that it contributes to strong, sustainable and balanced growth of the global economy. This includes re-orienting its economy away from a development model reliant on exports and credit-fueled investment in real estate and infrastructure to one that increases consumer spending and contributes to global demand. Central to this goal has been urging China to move toward a market-determined exchange rate. We are also addressing sources of friction in our bilateral relationship by pressing China to change a range of discriminatory policies and practices that harm U.S. companies and workers and that undermine incentives to innovate. These include subsidies that tilt the competitive playing field in favor of Chinese national champions, policies that pressure companies to hand over intellectual property as a condition for access to the Chinese market, and export credits that unfairly advantage Chinese companies in third markets. U.S. businesses have investments totaling over $50 billion. And from 2012 to 2013, Chinese direct investment flows into the United States more than doubled, according to private sector figures, and now contribute to thousands of jobs here. Our ongoing bilateral investment treaty negotiations hold the potential for even more mutually beneficial economic ties.

Even as we increase trade and investment, we will continue insisting on tangible progress in other economic areas that matter to the United States. These include:

  • China continuing to move toward a market-determined exchange rate;
  • negotiating a Bilateral Investment Treaty;
  • increasing access to Chinese markets for U.S. businesses;
  • developing a more transparent regulatory regime;
  • ending industrial policies that favor state-owned enterprises and national champions and seek to disadvantage foreign companies and their products;
  • ending forced technology transfer; and
  • addressing U.S. concerns over the theft of intellectual property and trade secrets, including government-sponsored, cyber-enabled theft for the purpose of giving Chinese companies a competitive advantage.

We will also continue to encourage greater Chinese integration into the rules-based international economic and trading system, in order to create a level playing field

for domestic and foreign companies operating in its and other markets. Over the last few months, China’s leaders have announced plans for sweeping reforms that, if realized, could go a long way in moving China’s economy toward market principles. We are encouraged that these announced reforms would potentially give the market a greater role in the economy, and we are keenly interested to see such reforms put into practice. I believe we can do much to work with China as it transitions to a consumption-driven, market-oriented growth model that would benefit both our economies.

Military-to-Military Relations

On the military side of the U.S.-China relationship, we are committed to building a sustained and substantive military-to-military relationship that focuses on identifying concrete, practical areas of cooperation and reducing risk. This includes not only deepening the use of institutionalized dialogue mechanisms, including senior defense participation at the SSD and S&ED, but also inviting the Chinese to join regional cooperative exercises and expanding talks with the Chinese military about operational safety in the region. For the first time this year, China will participate in RIMPAC June 26-August 1 in Hawaii.

We also aim to continue high-level exchanges between our militaries. Recent exchanges have included visits to China by Secretary Hagel in April and General Odierno in February, and a visit to the United States by Chief of the General Staff General Fang Fenghui in May.

At the same time, we will continue to carefully monitor China’s military developments and encourage China to exhibit greater transparency with respect to its military spending and modernization. This will help countries better understand the motivations of the People’s Liberation Army. We continue to encourage China to use its military capabilities in a manner conducive to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Global and Regional Issues

As the largest energy consumers, greenhouse gas emitters, and renewable energy producers, the United States and China share common interests, challenges and responsibilities. These are issues that relate directly to our economic and national security. Cooperation on climate change, energy, and environmental protection is more critical than ever and is an important area of focus in the U.S.-China bilateral relationship.

Through broad dialogues such as the Ten-Year Framework for Energy and Environment Cooperation and the S&ED, over the last year we have been able to produce new and expanded commitments to cooperation on climate change, energy, and the environment. During Secretary Kerry’s February trip to Beijing, he announced implementation plans for each of the five initiatives under the Climate Change Working Group as well as a new enhanced policy dialogue on domestic and international policies to address climate change that will be held on the margins of the upcoming S&ED.

China is a vital partner on some of the world’s most pressing proliferation challenges, including the DPRK and Iran. The United States and China agree on the importance and urgency of achieving a denuclearized, stable, and prosperous Korean Peninsula. While differences remain between us on some of the tactics, we coordinate closely and consult intensively on how to advance these shared goals. The result has been a tightened web of sanctions targeting North Korea’s nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation efforts. China has also strengthened its own sanctions enforcement, which we welcome, though it could do more to prevent North Korea from engaging in proliferation activities. Indeed, North Korea remains in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council resolutions that the United States and China approved and support. So we are urging China to make greater use of its unique leverage with the DPRK to produce concrete signs that the DPRK leader has come to the realization that his only viable path forward is denuclearization.

On Iran, the United States and China share the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and are working together within the P5+1 negotiations with Iran toward that goal. Through our frequent and high-level engagement, we will continue to press China to honor its commitments, in particular those related to its imports of Iranian oil and enforcement of UN sanctions, in furtherance of reaching a comprehensive and long-term solution to the Iran nuclear issue.

Managing Differences

In the Asia-Pacific region, Beijing’s neighbors are understandably alarmed by China’s increasingly coercive efforts to assert and enforce its claims in the South China and East China Seas. A pattern of unilateral Chinese actions in sensitive and disputed areas is raising tensions and damaging China’s international standing. Moreover, some of China’s actions are directed at U.S. treaty allies. The United States has important interests at stake in these seas: freedom of navigation and overflight, unimpeded lawful commerce, respect for international law, and the peaceful management of disputes. We apply the same principles to the behavior of all claimants involved, not only to China. China – as a strong and rising power – should hold itself to a high standard of behavior; to willfully disregard diplomatic and other peaceful ways of dealing with disagreements and disputes in favor of economic or physical coercion is destabilizing and dangerous.

The United States does not take sides on the sovereignty questions underlying the territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas, but we have an interest in the behavior of states in their management or resolution of these disputes. We want countries, including China, to manage or settle claims through peaceful, diplomatic means. For example, the Philippines and Indonesia have just done so in connection with their EEZ boundary. Disputes can also be addressed through third-party dispute resolution processes. Where parties’ rights under treaties may be affected, some treaties provide for third-party dispute settlement, as is the case of the Law of the Sea Convention, an avenue pursued by the Philippines in an arbitration with China currently being considered by an Arbitral Tribunal constituted under that treaty. The United States and the international community oppose the use or the threat of force to try to advance a claim, and view such actions as having no effect in strengthening the legitimacy of China’s claims. These issues should be decided on the basis of the merits of China’s and other claimants’ legal claims and adherence to international law and norms, not the strength of their militaries and law enforcement ships or the size of their economies.

Another area where we believe China’s actions run counter to important universal principles is the worsening human rights situation in China. Just this month, China conducted a harsh crackdown on commemorations of the 25th anniversary of Tiananmen Square. China’s actions included the detention, harassment and arrests of journalists, lawyers, and activists. Top U.S. officials raise our concerns with Chinese leaders on a regular basis, and, as we have in every previous round, Secretary Kerry plans to raise human rights at this year’s S&ED. We express concern about the Chinese government’s censorship of the media and Internet. We push for the release of all political prisoners, including but not limited to prominent figures like Liu Xiaobo. We urge China to address the policies in Tibetan areas that threaten the distinct religious, cultural, and linguistic identity of the Tibetan people. Instability and violence are on the increase in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. As we unequivocally condemn the acts of terrorism and violence, we also urge China to take steps to reduce tensions and reform counterproductive policies that stoke discontent and restrict peaceful expression and religious freedom.

Conclusion

Clearly, a wide-ranging and complex relationship such as ours with China comes with challenges. Some degree of friction is inevitable. But an essential tool for managing and resolving differences is open and extensive communications between our two countries – at senior and working levels of government, military to military, through local governments and organizations, between our business communities, and at the grassroots level.

We are now reflecting on the considerable progress attained in 35 years of bilateral relations. One key lesson is that to ensure that our relationship grows and matures, we need to build up the links among our two peoples. People-to-people exchanges are essential to enhancing mutual understanding and furthering U.S. strategic and economic goals. To that end, the United States in 2013 received 1.8 million Chinese visitors who collectively spent $9.8 billion on goods and services in our economy. Our State Department personnel work hard to facilitate growing Chinese demand for international travel by maintaining average visa wait-times under five days over the past two years.

Education also plays an important role fostering mutual understanding. In 2013, we had 235,000 students from China studying in the United States, more than from any other country, and the United States aspires to increase the number of American students studying in China and learning Mandarin through the 100,000 Strong Initiative. In March, PRC First Lady Peng Liyuan welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama to China where together they met with U.S. and Chinese students and faculty and promoted the value of study abroad and educational exchange.

We are also working with groups like the Sister Cities International and the U.S.-China Governors Forum. These programs help by encouraging and supporting cities and states to deepen their cultural or commercial ties with Chinese counterparts. In the last year alone, we have supported numerous visits of governors and state delegations and helped them to find opportunities to deepen their involvement and links to China.

The Department works closely with the United States Chamber of Commerce, AmCham China, the U.S.-China Business Council, and other business groups to support key priorities for U.S. companies doing business in China and to promote – greater Chinese investment in the United States. In partnership and consultation with those organizations, we have encouraged the Chinese government to eliminate investment restrictions, strengthen IPR protection, increase regulatory transparency, and establish a level playing field for all companies in China.

In conclusion, let me paraphrase what President Obama said earlier this year when he met with Chinese President Xi at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. The U.S.-China relationship has made great strides over these past several decades, and both sides are committed to building a new model of relations between our countries defined by expanded cooperation and constructive management of differences.

Mr. Chairman, I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss U.S.-China relations. I look forward to answering any questions you and others from the Committee may have.

Putting people at the centre of forest policies

National policies rarely fully recognize the vital role of forests in providing local communities with food, energy and shelter.

23 June 2014 Rome – Countries should put more policy emphasis on maintaining and enhancing the vital contributions of forests to livelihoods, food, health and energy, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

FAO’s flagship publication The State of the World’s Forests (SOFO), presented today at the opening of the 22nd Session of the FAO Committee on Forestry (COFO), shows that a significant proportion of the world population relies on forest products to meet basic needs for energy, shelter and some aspects of primary healthcare – often to a very high degree.

However, the report finds that these socioeconomic benefits are often not adequately addressed in forest and other relevant policies, despite their enormous potential to contribute to poverty reduction, rural development and greener economies.

The role of forests in food security is also often overlooked, but it is essential.

“This 2014 edition of SOFO focuses on the socioeconomic benefits derived from forests. It is impressive to see how forests contribute to basic needs and rural livelihoods. They are also a carbon sink, and preserve biodiversity,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva. “Let me say this clearly: we cannot ensure food security or sustainable development without preserving and using forest resources responsibly,” he added.

Wood a major source of household energy, but overlooked in policies

In many developing countries, wood energy is often the only accessible and affordable fuel for the majority of people. One in three households uses wood as their main fuel for cooking. Wood energy provides over half of the total energy supply in 29 countries, including 22 in Africa. In Tanzania, for example, woodfuel accounts for about 90 percent of total national energy consumption.

Wood energy is essential for the food security of billions of people, but forest, energy and food-security policies rarely fully recognize this. Much needs to be done to improve wood energy production, make it more sustainable and to reduce the burden on women and children, who collect 85 percent of all firewood used in homes.

One in five people live in houses built of wood

At least 1.3 billion people, or 18 percent of the world’s population, live in houses built of wood, according to SOFO. This is particularly important in less-developed countries, where forest products are usually more affordable than other building materials. The production of building materials, wood energy and non-wood forest products employs at least 41 million people in the “informal” sector worldwide, three times the number of people employed in the formal forest sector.

In addition, forests perform many essential environmental services, such as erosion control, pollination, natural pest and disease control, and climate-change mitigation, as well as provide numerous social and cultural services and nutrients to local communities all year round. 

FAO will address these and other important nutritional issues at the joint WHO-FAO global intergovernmental conference on nutrition ICN2, to be held in Rome on 19-21 November 2014.

Adjusting forest policies

FAO’s new report stresses that providing local communities and families with access to forests and markets and strengthening forest tenure rights are powerful ways of enhancing the socioeconomic benefits of forests and reducing poverty in rural areas.

SOFO highlights the need to improve the productivity of the private sector, including informal producers, and to increase accountability for the sustainable management of the resources on which forest enterprises are based. Stronger recognition of the role of forest environmental services, and payment mechanisms to ensure the maintenance of those services, are also required.

In light of the data and analysis provided in the report, many national policies may need to be reoriented, says FAO.

“Countries should shift their focus, both in data collection and policymaking, from production to benefits – in other words, from trees to people,” said FAO Assistant Director-General for Forests, Eduardo Rojas-Briales. “Policies and programmes, both in the forest sector and beyond, must explicitly address the role of forests in providing food, energy and shelter. A new, holistic concept of forests will make them more attractive to donors and investors and ensure that they benefit all people, especially those most in need.”

FAO appoints Prince Laurent of Belgium as Special Ambassador

Prince Laurent of Belgium has been appointed Special Ambassador to FAO for Forests and the Environment, FAO announced today at COFO.

The appointment is in recognition of Prince Laurent’s longstanding efforts to promote global development and his passion for the environment, sustainable technologies, and animal health and well-being. As FAO Special Ambassador, Prince Laurent will help FAO raise awareness about, and foster policy dialogue on, issues related to the sustainable management of forests and other natural resources.

New agreements

Also at the opening of COFO, FAO signed a four-year agreement with AgriCord for collaboration with the Forest and Farm Facility (FFF), a partnership between FAO, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which aims to strengthen forest and farm producer organizations.

AgriCord is a global network of agricultural development agencies led by professional farmers organizations and farmer-run businesses. With support from the Governments of the Netherlands and Finland, AgriCord will contribute €1 million to the FFF multi-donor fund to support forest and farm producer organizations in developing countries.

FAO and the Government of the Republic of Korea will sign a memorandum of understanding during COFO in support of the Forest Landscape Restoration Mechanism, which is designed to assist the implementation, monitoring and reporting of forest landscape restoration at the country level.

Press Releases: Remarks at Pacific Day Policy Seminar

I’m going for the whole thing.  Sorry about that, folks.  Well, good evening, everybody.  How are you all?  Everybody good?  What a fantastic evening, and it’s a great, great pleasure for me to be able to come over here and share Pacific Day.  Tonight, we celebrate – obviously or this evening, I can still say – the critical relationships that unites all of the nations of the Pacific.  And believe me, in the last few days at our conference, we’ve seen the power of how united the Pacific region is. 

So we thank you because these partnerships were born out of a world that put us together geographically because we border on the Pacific, but it has also put us together because we have weathered wars and we have developed together and built a shared prosperity.

 

So I want to thank Palau’s ambassador, Hersey Kyota, who invited me to come speak.  I particularly want to thank New Zealand’s Ambassador, Michael Moore, for hosting us.  I think we all want to join together in saying thank you for his willingness us to do that.  (Applause.)  Oh, where is he?  Hiding?  (Applause.)

 

I want to recognize New Zealand’s prime minister who is here – he’s hiding over here, right here – John Key.  Thank you so much, Mr. Prime Minister.  It’s an honor to be here.  (Applause.)  And I’m going to be meeting with him tomorrow, where we can discuss some of the issues that we’ll talk about here. 

 

I also am honored to be here with the president of Palau, Tommy Remengesau.  And we also met.  We had a wonderful opportunity to talk about a host of issues, but most importantly the way in which island nations are deeply threatened by climate change, rising sea levels, acidification, overfishing.  And all of these were the topics of the conference that we just had in the last few days.

 

I want to just emphasize to everybody, America thinks of itself as a Pacific nation and is a Pacific nation proudly.  We don’t just border it and have an extraordinary coastline framing the Pacific, but we have been in the Pacific and in its far reaches for centuries.  We also obviously went through an extraordinarily difficult period during World War II.  We shed a lot of blood in the Pacific and fought hard for the ability of Pacific nations to be free to determine their own future and certainly to be able to associate and come together to protect the freedom of navigation, the freedom of commerce, and our rights as human beings.

 

And one of those rights is the right to be free from pollution that literally threatens nations.  That is why President Obama made the strategic decision in the first term, to do what has become known as a rebalance or pivot, but I prefer a rebalance, because pivot implies we’re somehow turning away from something else and we’re not.  But we’re rebalancing so that we make certain that some people in the Pacific understand our commitment and can rely on the presence of the United States with respect to many of those issues that I just talked about. 

 

President Obama is absolutely committed to continuing to make certain that everybody understands this rebalance is not a passing fancy, it’s not a momentary thing, and in fact it has grown.  We recently renegotiated a long-term defense pact with Japan.  We have reaffirmed our relationship with South Korea.  We have, obviously, with ASEAN and our presence in Southeast Asia as well as throughout the islands and the nations southwards to New Zealand and Australia, we’ve strengthened our presence there.  And we are continuing and we will continue, I can guarantee you, to work to impress on people that the values that bring us together don’t belong to one country.  They don’t belong to one nation.  I would tell you that I think they are genuinely universal values, and they certainly don’t belong to any ideology. 

 

There are a huge number of issues that Pacific nations have to wrestle with as a community now, and we all have a stake in regional stability and security.  The right to choose one’s own government, as I said, we believe is a birthright.  Economic growth is imperative for all of us.  But one thing above all looms as a threat, literally, to existence, and that is the connective tissue that holds – that connects all of us with respect to the environment and our responsibility to the ocean itself.

 

We just had two days of a conference in which speaker after speaker, film after film, expert after expert, scientist after scientist documented the degree to which we, mankind, are threatening ourselves as a consequence of the amount of carbon dioxide we are releasing into the atmosphere, as a result of too much money chasing too few fish, as a result of the devastating impact of pollution, run-off from development that streams out of rivers and down into the ocean so that we have over 500 dead zones.  And we can unfortunately boast a big one in the Gulf of Mexico where, coming out of the Mississippi River, from the various rivers that feed into it along the way, all the way from the northern part of our country down into the south.  We have runoff from agriculture, which overloads nitrates which kills the ecosystem. 

 

This is happening, unfortunately, everywhere.  The numbers of birds and fish that are found imbibing plastic, which has a 450-year life, therefore, obviously, a killer for many fowl and fish.  We face an extraordinary challenge to our fishing stocks almost everywhere:  some depleted, some stocks so low that they’re almost extinct, and in some places fisheries that are fished to the level that they’re near the possibility of collapse.

 

So all of what I’ve just said is obviously an enormous challenge and probably some of you could walk away tonight and say, “Boy, I hate to hear all those facts because I don’t know what I can do about it.”  Well, the problem is solvable.  What is shocking to me, and I think to many of us who are engaged in this effort, is the fact that it’s not something we can’t do something about.  The solutions are staring us in the face.  The solution to climate change, which we have to embrace rapidly because of the rate and pace at which coal-fired power plants are still being built – the solution is energy policy. 

 

And we have brave innovators and entrepreneurs who are on the cutting edge of producing alternative and renewable capacity to produce the energy that we need.  Whether it’s solar or wind or biomass or other forms, or even – some people say God perish the thought because of what happened in Japan, but if you don’t build on an earthquake fault and right next to the ocean, nuclear does have the ability, as we’ve seen in so many places, from France to the United States Navy, where we haven’t lost one sailor in more than 70 years of the use of nuclear power, or had one accident on a ship.  It is, because it is zero emissions, one of the alternatives we’re going to have to use.  And I’m confident that our scientists, as we do, will find the ways to create a fuel cycle that is unified and we can deal with the waste, and clearly we have safer and greater capacity in fourth-generation modular units. 

 

So the solutions are there.  And I just want to – I want to leave you with just one thought, a big thought about this, which is what excites me and why I’m banging away at this.  We’ve got to move rapidly if we’re going to save some of those island.  We have to be able to turn this around, and that means we’re going to have to embrace very forward-leaning policies very quickly.  And next year in Paris, in December, we will meet – all of our nations of the world – in order to try to set targets in order to be able to do what I just talked about.

 

But let me just tell you something.  We could produce – we’re not about to, but we could produce three times the entire electricity needs of the United States of America well into the future from 100 square miles down in the New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona region.  You could do it if you decided to.  We could do solar-thermal, we could do other things, but we have to build the infrastructure to do these kinds of things.  We have to invest in it.  And that is true all around the world where people have yet to embrace the simplest forms of energy efficiency, where we could be making a different set of choices about how you price carbon and what you do.

 

The bottom line is this:  The marketplace that made America richer than it ever imagined in the 1990s was a $1 trillion market with four – with what, 1 billion users.  One and one; $1 trillion market, 1 billion users.  Every single income earner in America, every quintile of our percentage of taxpayers, from the bottom 20 percent to the top, saw their incomes go up during the course of the 1990s.  We created more wealth in America because of one sector of our economy, the technology sector, that boomed, and it provided goods to those 1 billion people and became a $1 trillion market. 

 

Well, guess what?  The energy market that I am talking about today, as you look at it, is a $6 trillion market with 4 to 5 billion users, and it’s going to go up to 9 billion users by 2050.  It’s the mother of all markets.  It’s the greatest opportunity to build infrastructure, build power plants that are clean, build windmills, build alternatives, to have a whole new restructuring of the goods and services that are provided to people that provide the energy of the world.  And given the fact that almost half of the world still lives on about $2 a day and a huge percentage on $1 a day, the capacity for this development to change lives, save lives, reduce conflict, have an impact on security, change our ability to dream about a different kind of future is absolutely extraordinary.

 

So it’s a beautiful evening, you came here to have fun, I don’t want to go on and on tonight, but I’m just telling you, there is a solution staring us in the face, and the Pacific region, the Pacific islands can help to underscore to people what is really at stake.  It’s called life itself.  And the irony, the horrible fact is those nations most threatened are those nations least contributing to this problem.  So the developed world has an obligation to make this happen, and I look forward to working with our Kiwi friends and others and all of the Pacific islands.  We’re going to get this job done.  Thank you for Pacific Day.  Thank you for welcoming me here today.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

Speeches: Assessing Threats Facing the U.S.-Korean Alliance

Thank you, Bob, for the introduction. I’m happy to be here at the Wilson Center and to contribute to a terrific program today.

On April 25th and 26th, President Obama visited the Republic of Korea for an unprecedented fourth time, to reaffirm our alliance, and more broadly, our truly comprehensive global partnership.

A month earlier in the former East German city of Dresden, President Park Geun-hye laid out her comprehensive vision for peaceful reunification of the Korean Peninsula – just days after North Korea provocatively launched two medium-range ballistic missiles.

Next month, President Park will host Chinese President Xi Jinping in Seoul at a time when both Republic of Korea-China economic ties, and the region’s challenges, are increasing.

These events show the strength of our alliance, the threat it faces, the Republic of Korea’s growing confidence, and the changes taking place in the region – all highlighting South Korea’s prospects for an even brighter future, and the potential stumbling blocks on the way there.

You all know these issues, and the Korean Peninsula, extremely well. It’s an honor for me to be here with Minister Gong. I had the privilege of working with him in the ‘90s, when he was Foreign Minister, and I was head of Embassy Seoul’s Political External Unit under Ambassador Jim Laney. This was the era of the Agreed Framework. And frankly, Minister Gong was already a legend, having been involved in diplomacy since the 1950s.

It’s also great to see my good friend Minister Kim Sung-hwan. I got to know the Minister when I was the National Security Council staffer responsible for Korea. We can think back to the time when we were planning President Obama’s trip to South Korea, and President Lee’s state visit to Washington. As you know, President Obama has visited Seoul more than any other foreign capital. Minister Kim’s role behind the scenes was absolutely essential to establishing a strong relationship between the two leaders.

Over two decades of working with the Republic of Korea, I’ve seen the Alliance modernize and relations between our countries grow and evolve.

And they’ve advanced markedly under President Obama, who developed close ties with former President Lee Myung-bak, and now with President Park Geun-hye. I want to underscore up front that the growth in our relationship, and the scope of what our two nations do together, has been driven in large part by South Korea’s incredible progress, in just a few generations, from a nation ravaged and impoverished by war, to a modern, democratic, prosperous global power.

Naturally, the threat posed by North Korea has been an enduring focal point of our alliance for sixty-plus years now. That threat – specifically the DPRK’s nuclear, ballistic missile, proliferation programs is a grave threat, it is persistent threat, and it is a growing threat. But working together, the United States and the Republic of Korea are addressing it through a comprehensive, principled strategy that uses all the tools at our disposal – economic, diplomatic, and military.

Militarily, we deter the North by maintaining a robust, increasingly interoperable alliance. It features some of the best-trained, best-equipped warfighters in the world. Diplomatically, we work hand-in-hand with each other, and with our other Six-Party partners and the broader international community, to hold North Korea to account. And economically, we have enacted, both domestically and multilaterally, extremely tough sanctions on the DPRK.

The strategy is to sharpen the DPRK’s choice: to raise the cost of continued defiance and effectively leave the DPRK no viable alternative but to honor its commitments and come into compliance with its international obligations—first and foremost—with its obligation to irreversibly and verifiably denuclearize. North Korea can never achieve security and prosperity while it pursues nuclear weapons. But we continue to make clear to North Korea that meeting its obligations and taking irreversible steps to denuclearize will put it on a path to attain the security, the economic development, and the international acceptance that it wants.

But while security is the focus of today’s event and North Korea is never far from our collective minds, let me emphasize that the U.S.-Republic of Korea relationship today goes far beyond a localized defensive alliance driven by the DPRK threat.

Today, if you’ll permit me, I’ll be ambitious and cover the U.S.-Republic of Korea alliance in five parts: one, an overview of the challenges we face and America’s broader regional strategy, which provides context for the alliance; two, the Republic of Korea-U.S. global partnership; three, our bilateral relations, including security; four, regional challenges; and five, regional opportunities.

Challenges Facing the Alliance and America’s Strategy for the Asia-Pacific Region

As I said: there is a single overarching threat to the alliance, which comes from North Korea. But the alliance also faces at least three principal challenges, as I see it.

First: expanding our vision for what our alliance can accomplish. Our ambition should reflect South Korea’s increased economic power, military capacity, and global role. This is a happy challenge to face.

Second: executing the “nuts and bolts” modernization of our defense relationship. This includes continuing to upgrade equipment and training to improve interoperability, and also working out the transfer of wartime operational control. It includes sorting out how to keep our alliance politically sustainable, and how, for example, to resolve land use issues when cities grow to reach the edges of our bases. It also includes addressing the costs that come from keeping U.S. troops in a highly developed, increasingly expensive country.

Third: ensuring that our alliance adapts to meet the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities of changing dynamics in the region. These include China’s rise, ASEAN’s growing centrality, and Japan’s revitalized economy and renewed political stability.

The regional context includes America’s sustained rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. This is a sophisticated audience, so I won’t review the full rationale and history of the rebalance. But briefly, it started when President Obama took office in 2009 and, with a view to America’s economic recovery and future, decided to make the region a strategic priority and approach it as an integrated whole.

As a result, the U.S. set about reinvigorating our treaty alliances in the region; we upgraded our engagement in regional fora such as ASEAN and the East Asia Summit; we focused more time and attention on emerging powers in the region; and we strengthened cooperation and economic ties with longtime friends and newer partners – taking a holistic approach through programs like the Lower Mekong Initiative, which brings together several nations with common interests, and launching Energy Partnerships and other initiatives.

Our Global Partnership

Over the last couple of decades, the Republic of Korea has emerged as a positive force for security, stability, and prosperity across the globe. South Korea’s position has been strengthened immeasurably by its phenomenal performance – the Miracle on the Han with its equally important economic and political components – and its willingness, even eagerness, to share its success with the world. As a result, as I mentioned, we’ve developed an increasingly comprehensive global partnership. It is underpinned by strong economic and people-to-people ties, shared values of democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law, and, of course, our alliance – the linchpin of peace and security in the region.

Our burgeoning global partnership with the Republic of Korea really shows what two countries can do when they make an affirmative decision to rally behind shared interests and shared values. Development is one example: sixty years ago, the United States provided development assistance and sent Peace Corps volunteers to South Korea. Now KOICA – the Republic of Korea’s Peace Corps equivalent, is the second largest international volunteer corps in the world.

Korea’s rapid development – its economic miracle and democratization – inspire striving nations all over the world. Now, the Republic of Korea plays an important role in advancing global economic and financial stability through its membership in the G20. Today, both the U.S. and the Republic of Korea offer assistance and paths to peace and development to countries that seek our help.

The Republic of Korea is also a global leader on nuclear security. Few countries better understand the threat of nuclear weapons, and South Korea works well beyond its own neighborhood to advance our shared vision for a nuclear-weapons-free world. It hosted leaders from around the world for the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. The Republic of Korea has been a close partner in addressing concerns with Iran’s nuclear program, helping to implement the Joint Plan of Action through the P5 + 1 negotiating process. And we collaborate on a wide range of nonproliferation and counter-proliferation issues.

South Korea has also worked closely with us to support the mission to remove Syria’s chemical weapons. In Afghanistan, our troops have served side by side while our development personnel have worked together to help that country build a foundation for its future. And our work together extends well beyond security.

The scope of our collaboration to advance science and human development is impressive – we engage in far-sighted scientific research in fields from nanotechnology to earth sciences, as well as clean energy technologies like smart grids and fuel cells that may soon be making a difference in the lives of all of us. We work together on practical applications of science in fields such as advanced manufacturing and aeronautics. We have important roles to play in address climate change. And we’re helping people in immediate need by promoting maternal and child health in Ghana and Ethiopia, and working together on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, particularly in Southeast Asia.

Bilateral Relations

As you can see, our global partnership is extensive, touching almost every continent. And while I know this conference is focused on threats and challenges facing the alliance, I think the starting point should be the alliance’s fundamental strengths.

First of all, our bilateral relationship has never been stronger, and it touches every field of human endeavor.

Our economic relationship has never been closer. The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement took effect just over two years ago, and last year, we had $125 billion in bilateral trade. Our people-to-people ties also continue to grow. In the last decade-and-a-half, the number of Korean-Americans has gone up 41 percent, to a total of more than 1.7 million – including World Bank President Jim Kim, and our friend and immensely talented Ambassador in Seoul, Sung Kim, and many more distinguished Americans.

And of course, as I indicated, our security ties are also strong and enduring. America’s commitment to South Korea’s security remains unwavering, and we continue to strengthen our combined defensive posture on the Peninsula. We are constantly working to improve readiness and interoperability in order to meet existing and emerging security threats. This includes shared investment in ballistic missile defense and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Our new Special Measures Agreement provides important resources to help sustain the presence of U.S. Forces in Korea. This agreement is yet one more proof point that both nations are politically and economically committed to making our alliance even more sustainable and adaptable.

But more important than any single proof point is the strength of our people-to-people ties. For example, President Obama’s passionate interest in and respect for Korea’s commitment to education is matched only by Korean interest in American educational institutions – there are more Korean students studying in the U.S. than those from Canada and Mexico combined.

Let me also share one personal vignette. The visit by President Obama to Seoul in April was meticulously planned. But, frankly, in the course of the visit, to mea at least, the most moving moment – the moment I will remember forever – was a spontaneous, heartfelt act at the Blue House, when President Obama, speaking for all Americans, expressed condolences for those lost in the Sewol tragedy, and called for a moment of silence in their honor.

What our two leaders, what our two nations, what our two peoples, shared at that moment, says as much about the strength of our alliance as anything I could say.

Regional Challenges…

Let me turn to the regional challenges. At the same time that South Korea has strengthened its alliance with the U.S., it has also pursued peace and prosperity in a very complicated neighborhood.

In the face of North Korea’s hostile rhetoric and its threats to carry out new provocations, President Park has remained steadfast in maintaining a strong, principled posture and in insisting that the nuclear issue cannot be set aside. But at the same time, she has been consistently extending a hand to the North and laying out a step-by-step process for building trust across the DMZ. She has demonstrated convincingly how the North could benefit economically from steps toward reconciliation and denuclearization. And the United States firmly supports this vision for peaceful reunification.

The United States also shares her compassion and concern for the North Korean people.

We are deeply troubled by the deplorable human rights violations taking place in North Korea today, graphically detailed by the recent U.N. Commission of Inquiry. We will continue to work closely with the Republic of Korea and others across the international community to seek protection and a better life for the victims of repression, and accountability for the victimizers.

In just a couple of weeks, Seoul will host a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping. This is an extraordinary milestone, and it should be helpful in promoting needed cooperation on North Korea. It is particularly gratifying for me, personally, since I played a small role in helping to facilitate early contacts between Seoul and Beijing in the beginning of the 1990’s when I served at the United Nations – alongside a talented South Korean diplomat named Yun Byung-se, when he was stationed at the Republic of Korea observer mission at the U.N.

The United States fully supports South Korea’s efforts to build strong ties with its neighbors. The flourishing relationship between China and South Korea clearly demonstrates that our alliances in the region are a force for stability and integration, and that active U.S. engagement is good for the Asia-Pacific region.

At the same time, and in contrast to improvements with China, relations between Korea and Japan remain strained. Both countries have compelling shared interests – both are free-market economies, stable democracies, influential regional actors. Both are crucial U.S. allies. The Director General-level dialogue between Japan and Korea on historical issues is an important instrument for working through sensitivities. And the meeting hosted by President Obama last March in The Hague, which brought President Park and Prime Minister Abe together to confer trilaterally on North Korea, was an important milestone.

There is hard work ahead for both sides. This cannot be done by one party alone. And the hard work is made more difficult by politicization and by the erosion of trust. But it’s hard work that is made more imperative by the pressing need for cooperation. South Korea and Japan are two of our most important allies, and cooperation between them and trilaterally among us is essential – not just to address the nuclear and missile threats from North Korea; not just to manage contingencies on the Peninsula; but to advance all of our interests and values globally.

…and Regional Opportunities

There are also opportunities along with those challenges. Our strong modern alliance and global partnership positions the Republic of Korea and the United States to seize opportunities throughout the region.

We are working together to build up the region’s political and economic institutions, which, as I mentioned, is a key aspect of the rebalance. For example, South Korea has stepped up its interactions with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. This includes active participation in the “ASEAN plus three” group. It includes President Park’s participation in the East Asia Summit, an ASEAN-convened meeting of 18 of the region’s leaders. And it includes Korea’s strong role in helping to build up ASEAN’s maritime security and disaster relief capacities.

In APEC, the U.S. and Republic of Korea work closely with 19 other member economies from across the Asia-Pacific to expand trade and investment, promote sustainable growth, and strengthen regional ties. For example, we are working closely with South Korea to strengthen cross-border education and skills development; increase economic opportunities for women; and develop capacity building programs to enhance the ability of economies to participate in high quality trade agreements.

We also welcome South Korea’s interest in a hugely important project, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. Although our focus right now is on concluding the negotiations with the current 12 members, we are committed to continuing to consult closely with the Republic of Korea on meeting the high standards of the TPP, and to address specific areas of concern. The TPP is an ambitious, comprehensive, and high standard agreement that will promote growth and create jobs both at home and in the region, and includes economies that represent nearly 40 percent of global GDP.

Conclusion

Northeast Asia is a complex region with shifting dynamics, and new challenges will continue to rise. But there is one constant: the friendship between the American people and the Korean people, backed by our unwavering alliance commitment. Korea and the United States signed our first treaty of peace, amity, commerce and navigation 132 years ago. We have been allies for more than sixty years.

More recently, we have built a truly remarkable comprehensive global partnership. I believe that there is much, much more that we can do together and I’m counting on the sessions this afternoon to shed light on ways to increase our cooperation and the effectiveness of our alliance.

With that, let’s open it up for discussion.

Preparation Environment Council, 12 June 2014

European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 11 June 2014

Preparation Environment Council, 12 June 2014

The second formal Environment Council under the Greek Presidency will be held in Luxembourg on 12 June. Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard and Health Commissioner Tonio Borg will represent the European Commission. The Council will deal with climate and health-related points in the morning before moving on to environment issues after lunch. The main climate point will be a public debate on the policy framework on climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030. The main health point will be the Commission’s GMO cultivation proposal. Over lunch, ministers are expected to discuss the recently adopted Commission Communication on Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 agenda. The main environment points in the afternoon are an orientation debate on the Clean Air Package proposed by the Commission last December, and conclusions that are expected to be adopted in view of the up-coming multilateral biodiversity conferences to be held in South Korea in the autumn. Any other business points include information from the Commission on the state of play regarding EU ratification of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period and the proposal to establish an EU system for monitoring and reporting CO2 emissions from large ships, information from the Presidency on the Commission proposal to cut plastic bag use, information from France on endocrine-disrupting substances and from Sweden on highly fluorinated substances. The Presidency and the Commission will also report on the outcome of recent international meetings and events. Finally, the incoming Italian Presidency will present its work programme. A press conference will take place at the end of the morning session on the items discussed. A second press conference with Commissioner Potočnik on environment issues is scheduled to take place at the end of the meeting.

2030 Framework for Climate and Energy Policies

The Council will hold a public debate on the climate and energy policy framework for 2020-2030 presented by the Commission in January (see IP/14/54). The framework aims to make the EU economy and energy system more competitive, secure and sustainable. The Commission proposes that, by 2030, the EU reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % below 1990 levels through domestic measures alone and increase the share of renewable energy to at least 27 %. Improving energy efficiency is also a key pillar of the 2030 framework: the Commission will review progress to date later this year and propose further action as necessary. The Commission also proposes a new governance framework for climate and energy policies and a set of key indicators to assess progress. The European Council is expected to take a final decision on the framework in October 2014.

The debate will be based on input from the informal Energy and Environment Councils held in mid-May and structured around two questions drawn up by the Council Presidency. The first is on whether other sectors could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The second focuses on the investment challenge.

GMO Cultivation

The Council will discuss a compromise text prepared by the Greek Presidency on the Commission’s GMO cultivation proposal, with a view of reaching a political agreement. The compromise text preserves the EU authorisation process based on risk assessment and the free marketing of GMOs and gives Member States the possibility to decide on GMO cultivation on their territories.

It also introduces a possibility for Member States to request an applicant, via the Commission, to adjust the geographical scope of its application, so that parts of or all the territories of the requesting Member State are excluded from cultivation. Should the applicant refuse to adjust the geographical scope, Member States could then use the post authorisation opt-out originally proposed by the Commission in July 2010, Through this opt-out, a Member State can decide to ban the cultivation of an EU approved GMO(s) on part of or all its territory based on grounds not conflicting with the environmental risk assessment carried out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) pursuant to the GMO legislation. The text also provides the possibility for Member States to adjust their decision on cultivation restriction or ban along the 10 year term of the GMO authorisation, if new objective circumstances arise.

A political agreement would mark the end of the first reading on this proposal, and allow discussions with the European Parliament to start in second reading. The Commission is fully committed to working with the Council and the Parliament to reach an agreement on the GMO cultivation proposal as soon as possible.

Clean air package

Ministers will hold an orientation debate on the Clean Air package adopted by the Commission in December last year (see IP/13/1274). The package contains a new Clean Air Programme for Europe, with measures to ensure that existing targets are met in the short term, and new air quality objectives for the period up to 2030, with measures to help cut air pollution, improve air quality in cities and promote international cooperation. To deliver on these objectives, the package contains a revised National Emission Ceilings (NEC) Directive with stricter national emission ceilings for six pollutants, and a proposal for a new Directive to reduce pollution from medium-sized combustion plants (MCP), which are not covered by current legislation. The debate, which will allow ministers to share their views on strategic policy, will take the form of a tour de table with delegations covering four questions in one intervention. Two questions on the proposed MCP Directive will focus on the degree of flexibility desirable for the Directive, and the extent to which the proposal is appropriate to close the existing regulatory gap. Two further questions on the proposed revision to the NEC Directive will gauge Ministers’ support for the two-stage approach it contains (i.e. with measures for 2020 and 2030), and for the proposal to reduce air emissions from agriculture, a sector where there are substantial cost-effective reduction possibilities.

Conclusions on the Convention on Biological Diversity

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions to inform the overall EU negotiating position at several up-coming multilateral biodiversity conferences: the CBD COP 12, the Cartagena Protocol COP-MOP 7 and the Nagoya Protocol COP-MOP 1 in Pyeongchang, Korea, in October. The Conclusions are intended to enable the EU and its Member States to continue playing a leading role in biodiversity protection at international level and to contribute to successful outcomes in Pyeongchang. The issue of resource mobilisation is expected to be an important issue at COP 12, and this is reflected in the conclusions; the EU and its MS will continue to defend a multi-dimensional approach, looking at all sources of funding, including official development assistance but also innovative financing mechanisms, domestic resources, and from mainstreaming of biodiversity across other sectors. Other items addressed in the conclusions that are particularly important for the EU include the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, biodiversity safeguards in relation to REDD+, the UN-led effort to halt deforestation and forest degradation, boosting the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

The Commission will also report on the outcome of the recent high-level conference on Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) held in Brussels (see MEX 22/0514).

Any other business

State of play of the ratification and implementation of the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period

The Commission put forward the legislative proposals necessary for EU ratification of the second commitment period (2013-2020) of the Kyoto Protocol in November 2013 (see IP/13/1035). The Commission aims to finalise the main elements of the ratification package so that the EU and Iceland can jointly ratify the second commitment period.

State of play of the proposal for a Regulation on monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport

The Commission put forward a legislative proposal to establish an EU system for monitoring, reporting and verifying (MRV) emissions from large ships using EU ports (see IP/13/622), as a first step to implement an EU strategy to integrate maritime transport emissions in the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction policies. The Commission proposes that the MRV system apply to shipping activities carried out from 1 January 2018.

State of play of the proposal to cut the use of single-use plastic bags

The Presidency will also present an overview of progress with the Commission Proposal to help Member States cut their use of plastic bags (see IP/13/1017). Member States can choose the measures they find most appropriate, including charges, national reduction targets or a ban under certain conditions. Lightweight plastic bags are often used only once, but can persist in the environment for hundreds of years, often as harmful microscopic particles that are known to be dangerous to marine life in particular.