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

Clinton pushes agenda for Asia, North Korea

ALT TEXT

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. Brain

    Who cares about the Clintons!

    February 13, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. Ray Ray

    Hillary says,

    "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.

    Translation: We're not going to do anything you don't want us to do. We're sorry for EVER acting in our best interests and take the blame for ALL of the world's problems. Here – take our money as we wave the white flag.

    February 13, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. GET REAL.

    They've GOTTA stop taking pictures of HRC with that crazy face she does sometimes. She looks fine normally, but they always catch her with that MAD Magazine, psycho-happy grin. "YES KIDS! HAPPY HAPPY! WE'RE GOING TO WALLYWORLD!"

    February 13, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  4. person

    so happy that evil puppet, Condi Rice is gone for good, I hope!

    February 13, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. ken

    Clinton needs to go and work quietly without making news and acting like the President!

    Darnitt!

    February 13, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  6. Ula Nejad Sacramento, Ca

    Trans-pacific?.Good luck. Political events in the south just might be a little too late.

    February 13, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  7. Mike

    Dear Elise: please learn how to spell and proof read your work!

    genijnely
    armistatise
    ecnomic
    administraiton's
    to name a named a special envoy

    February 13, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  8. Marc

    Why does Hillary always look like a caricature of herself on CNN?

    February 13, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  9. Dem in FL

    She is phenomenal. I can't wait for her to be the 45th president

    February 13, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  10. 08-16

    I like the agenda that is setup for the S.O.S. I hope she can make some good negotiations and stabilize the region.

    February 13, 2009 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  11. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Hillary has a great job just being away from Washington.

    February 13, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  12. Rob Stumpf

    God, she looks awful. What is that chilling mother-of-Chucky expression on her face?

    She's not going to age well.

    February 13, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  13. No Comment

    What's the matter darling...are those I-owe-U's coming due on all those Clinton promises to foreign nations?

    Why in God's name are you offering foreign aide to enemies like North Korea while we are floundering around with a stock market melting down, huge job losses, foreclosures and huge reckless deficit spending. We simply cannot afford your "love in".

    February 13, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  14. Scott L

    What a putz.

    February 13, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  15. Kira

    Don't care about N.Korea, it is about America!

    February 13, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  16. jim

    You are not the President Mrs. Clinton...
    You are just someone who happens to follow Presidents orders!

    February 13, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  17. Ben

    Without Bashing Clinton, do we really care about Korea, china and Iran.......

    Guess not....
    We care about our country America is burning!

    February 13, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  18. kathie ann

    Hillary....you were saved for the best, and you are

    February 13, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  19. Lynn

    Nice to see the two Democrat rivals can put the primaries behind them and work together putting "country first".

    February 13, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  20. Einstein Anonymous

    Just looking at that picture, I can tell (and certainly hope) she will not be just a photo-op official.

    February 13, 2009 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  21. Joyce

    I like what I'm seeing and reading and noticing so far in the Obama Administration. Truly Hilary is a team player and will do her best to deliver.

    February 13, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  22. Scott, Tucson

    I wonder just how much foreign aid money we will now be pouring into N.Korea to buy them off?

    February 13, 2009 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  23. Gary of Los Angeles

    God Bless HILLARY! She is the only person working hard to make the Obama Administration work. HILLARY for 2012!

    February 13, 2009 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  24. Ray Ray

    "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.

    Translation: We're not going to do anything you don't want us to do. We're sorry for EVER acting in our best interests and take the blame for ALL of the world's problems. Here – take our money as we wave the white flag.

    February 13, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  25. Lori

    I am so pleased with President Obama's cabinet picks. After 8 years of George W and his gang, I'm so glad we have intelligent people who really care about America and its world image.

    All the best Hillary!

    February 13, 2009 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
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