Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that the Obama administration is prepared to seek a permanent, stable peace with North Korea (GETTY IMAGES)
NEW YORK (CNN) – Calling North Korea's nuclear program "the most acute challenge to stability in northeast Asia," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that the Obama administration is prepared to seek a permanent, stable peace with North Korea as long as the North Korean regime pursues disarmament and does not engage in aggression against neighboring South Korea.
"If North Korea is genijnely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama administraiton will be wiling to normalize bilateral relations, replace the pennsinula's longstanding armistatise agrements with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other ecnomic needs of the North Korean people," Clinton said in an address to the New York-based Asia Society before departing Sunday for Asia on her maiden overseas trip as secretary of state.
She is slated to travel to China, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.
Clinton outlined a sweeping agenda of engagement with Asia, ranging from mutual economic recovery and trade to the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation and reversing the trend of global warming.
Clinton said the United States wanted to move foward with the so-called Six Party Talks, working together with China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and North Korea to address North's nuclear program.
However, keeping in line with the Obama administraiton's approach of "engaging" its enemies, Clinton said the US would be be considering bi-lateral contacts with Pyongyang.
Despite the olive branch, Clinton warned Pyongyang "to avoid any provocative action or unhelpful rhetoric toward South Korea."
Tension between Pyongyang and its neighbor South Korea has increased in recent weeks, with North Korea announcing it would scrap peace agreements with the South, warning of a war on the Korean peninsula and threatening to test a
missile capable of hitting the western United States.
Clinton also sought to reassure Japan, the top U.S. ally in the region, about its key concern, promising to meet with the families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.
Calling the 50 year old security alliance with Japan "unshakable," Clinton said she will sign an agreement to move 8,000 US troops from Okinawa to the island Guam.
Much of Clinton's conversations will be dominated by the global financial meltdown. She said despite the financial crisis, the US hoped to expand trade with countries in the reigon.
She called for an improved relationship with China, where she said the US would shortly renew military-to-military contacts. She will also try to establish closer cooperation on climate change with China, which has surpassed the US as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Todd Stern, her new envoy for climate change, will be accompaning Clinton on the trip.
Clinton's trip represents a departure from a diplomatic tradition under which the secretary of state in a new administration makes his or her first overseas trip to Europe.
But she said the Obama administraton's desire to "develop a broader and deeper" relationship with the region that has felt overlooked by the US despite its growing global importance.
"It demonstrates clearly that our new administration wants to focus a lot of time and energy in working with Asian partners and all the nations in the Pacific region," she said Because we know that so much of our future depends upon our relationships there."
Her 45-minute address offered few specifics about US policy before consulting with the allies in the region She delivered a sharp rebuke of the former Bush administration's foreign policy Friday, saying that the U.S. government in recent years had too often acted "reflexively" without "hearing the facts" or "listening to others."
The Obama administration's foreign policy will value the opinions of other nations, and will "hold ourselves and others accountable," and acknowledge American contributions to global problems, she said.
The United States can no longer afford to conduct foreign policy strictly on a "country-by-country" basis or by splitting the world into regions, she said. As both a "trans-Atlantic" and "trans-Pacific" power, America will instead begin to press for stronger bilateral, regional and global cooperation.
Officials said Clinton had hoped to name a named a special envoy for North Korea before leaving for Asia Sunday to signal the Obama administration's commitment to addressing North Korea's nuclear program, but that the timing and specifics of the job were still being worked out. Clinton told reporters she hoped to name the envoy "soon".
Stephen Bosworth, the dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and a former State Department official, has been offered the job to replace Assistant Secretary Christopher Hill, who is expected to replace Ryan Crocker as U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
Does anyone know of a blog where people can engage in intelligent discourse on topics of the day? I am so tired of reading all the hateful comments that bash President Obama, the first lady, our Secretary of State, the constant reference to "pork" in a recovery bill that has no "pork", etc. There are some intelligent posts on the CNN blogs but they are drowned out by all the nonsense and no real debate or discussion takes place. Grow up please! It is our right and responsibility as part of the democratic process to engage, to argue, to disagree, to challenge our leaders and one another, but do we really need to comment ad nasueam on how people look, what they are wearing, and to constantly wish that our President (and by extension, our country) fails? Do you realize what you are saying? Do you really believe what you are saying or are you just so angry that your party lost or that President Obama hasn't found a magic wand to solve all the country's problems in a few weeks that you just don't know how else to express yourself? Let's do better. We have a President of extraordinary intelligence that is asking us to think about issues of the day and to disagree in a civil manner. Let's give it a try.
Ok, I just had to vent...now I'm done and will go listen to Rachel Maddow and get a dose of good reporting and commentary - not all of which I agree with but which makes me think nonetheless.
Come on guys HRC didn't get snookered. She took the job purely for the money. She was a junior nobody in the Senate and would of never had a chance to become senior because of her age.
Plus Bubba wanted her to take the job so he has more time with the ladies while HRC is traveling the globe. If you think HRC is smiling try looking at a recent photo of Bubba. He is one happy man!!!!!!!
Would it kill you to use a picture of Hillary that DOESN'T make her look like a complete psycho?
Really, Mathew in Detroit?
We are a month into this thing and we've failed, right?
I mean, seriously.....come on people – use your heads.
There's just too much out of control emotion out there – I know – I do it too, but this is truly getting ridiculous......
Wacka Wacka – I'm goin' to the dairy farm to lay some scrambled eggs – whooopi – wacka wacka wacka
@Fan of Common Sense February 13th, 2009 8:34 pm ET
That look on her face is both incredibly dumb and incredibly scary all at the same time......Shut up But Head!!!
Hillary Clinton was a FABULOUS candidate – SMART and EXPERIENCED (but "unfortunately" WHITE).
Obama was and is a FRAUD - STUPID, INEXPERIENCED (and "fortunately" BLACK),
Now Hillary Clinton doesn’t seem to have much of a job at the State Department - EXACTLY what Obama-the-Flake (or, rather, his wife Michelle) wanted.
Sorry, Hillary - you deserved better - but you should have stayed in the Senate.
Sorry for you, ignorant Democrats!
"I am so glad that Mrs. Clinton is going to asia as her first international trip" – I think you will find that Clinton has been on thousands of international trips, unlike Obama
I was not overjoyed by this pick for sos, but as long as she doesn't overstep herself & keeps doing what Pres Obama has told her to do I am ok with it. So far she seems to be doing ok.
That's a terrible picture of the Secretary...
I'm not a fan of hers, but that's just wrong.
oh.... these sore loser Repubs.... Clinton is going to be wonderful in her job..... stop the carping.... we are sick of listening to it!
Eva February 13th, 2009 8:23 pm ET
Now THIS is the example of a strong, intelligent woman. =)
I REALLY hope you're being sarcastic...
What a relief we have such a qualified person at SOS.
Unlike Palin, she knows Arfica is a Continent .
Everybody talk about Clinton's asia trip to N.Korea, Japan, China..anybody put comment on her visit to INDONESIA..Why she go there?