February 13th, 2009
05:06 PM ET
9 years ago

Clinton pushes agenda for Asia, North Korea


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.

Filed under: Hillary Clinton
soundoff (89 Responses)
  1. Matthew, Detroit

    Hillary you made a mistake. You should have stayed in the Senate and you would have been more important.

    Barack got you again and pushed you aside. You are now unknown., unimportant, and ineffective.

    February 13, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  2. G.O.P.: When you got nothing, You got nothing to lose

    Historical Fact: The republicans in the House voted unanimously against Clinton's stimulus in 1993.

    February 13, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. Ever

    LOVE HER!!!!

    February 13, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    GOPers blabbering about the end of the world, terrorists and Obama being a non-citizen muslim manchurian POTUS...in 3...2....1...

    February 13, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  5. John. Austin, TX

    UGH!! way too many typos to be able to read through that. Come on, guys. You screen these posts more thoroughly than the stories.

    February 13, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  6. Alicia

    Diplomacy is back!!!!! Yes! Yes! Yes!

    You go girl, Hillary! Do USA proud.

    February 13, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. That's Our Girl - Give Em Money

    While Obama/Peloski are running huge spending bills here that old gal is out promising foreign aide to North Korea if they play nice. Send 'em money Hill Dog!!!!!!!! We can pay it back with our $13 a week savings under this stimulus pkg.

    I am an independent but never never ever a fan of anything Clinton. I am seriously concerned about all of Obama's picks. Didn't Obama say choosing his VP and his cabinet were the first major decisions he will make.

    I hope I'm wrong for our country's sake, but Abe Lincoln he is NOT.

    February 13, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. BJ

    What an idiot.

    February 13, 2009 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. Mike

    I like Clinton but who cares?

    I worry about my home country and it's economy!

    February 13, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  10. Once you vote Black

    This is great, while Barack HUSAIN Obama is making the GOP look like 2nd graders his SOS is out with the Olive Branch undoing all that Bush Error has done over the past 8 years! America is Black, I mean Back!

    February 13, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  11. southerncousin

    Shades of Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter. Good luck with the global warming stuff with China, I guess you could always threaten to send over Al Gore to terrify them about cow gas.

    February 13, 2009 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  12. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!


    February 13, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  13. peakarack

    Hillary,I think U should be our President.

    February 13, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. Question for CNN

    Do you purposely select the most unflattering photos you can find?

    February 13, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  15. FreeNLovIt

    That looks and sound so much more exciting than being sent to Europe or the Middle East..

    February 13, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  16. Darin

    North Korea? Kim Jong il – he's a nut job! Good luck.

    February 13, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  17. EVOLVE

    GO HILLARY!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 13, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. Arden

    I wish Sec. of State Clinton all the best for a safe and fruitful trip.

    February 13, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. S Callahan

    Funny how so much focus is given to Iran's building of the "N" facility...

    yet here we are.....back visiting North Korea... if just floors me no lesson was learned through his stroke....What does God have to do to get your attention?

    February 13, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Terry, TX

    Translate.... we are to try to bribe them.... they will take the money and laugh to the bank.

    February 13, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. dittohead with forty names

    Her guy made the Time Magazine Cover story,but its not too good.He sold us out and I voted for the crook.Im just glad I didnt vote for her shes just as bad.Lets hope she cant sell us out in her present position.

    February 13, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  22. Ed's Kate

    What a breath of fresh air! God speed, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton. We are fortunate to have you as our representative in the State Department. Your intelligence will come through loud and clear, you will not be just a "photo op" person.

    February 13, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Jane

    Is she not pitiful. Whatever it takes to stay in the limelight. I kinds feel sorry for her. You know she hates this job – loathes Obama – and yet for a chance to stay in the limelight she will do anything. I think she looks old, tired, and unwilling to stay in the background. What will she accomplish. Nothing – she never has and she never will. She is so angry and it shows. She has intelligence but it is wrongly directed. I would advise her to never take that job, run for president again, shen the country is tired of an African American, that is half black and half white – and the country will be. She had so much for experience, but she could never be elected president and she never will and I think that is sad.

    February 13, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  24. arithmetic is liberal

    That is a completely genuine, albeit terrible picture of Clinton. Warts and all. Made me smile.

    February 13, 2009 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  25. Patriot Guy

    Thank God we don't have to worry about this woman ever being President. Obama's failed presidency will guarantee that.

    February 13, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
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