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. Matt

    Can't Nancy Pelosi lend her some Botox at least. What a hideous face to put before the world.

    February 13, 2009 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Happy Camper

    Look out American workers, she'll probably send more of our jobs over to Asia this time. It will be bigger than NAFTA

    February 13, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  3. Albo58

    Like her husband, Mrs. Clinton is foolishly going to try and keep the peace by offering up $billions in American aid to North Korea. When will she and the other libs realise that appeasement of a dictator doesn't work?

    February 13, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  4. the truth

    she looks scary

    February 13, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  5. an American

    We are safer because Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State.

    February 13, 2009 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  6. Ralph from NJ

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    February 13, 2009 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  7. Wolf-Woman Palin Charlotte, NC

    If it were not for Bush's recession and Obama's cabinet fiascoes, Hilary would be the talk of the media circus. Keep an eye on her; when this economy settles, she will be the big winner for this country. Right now, she is laying the groundworks for potentially great things in almost total obscurity.

    February 13, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  8. ja3p0

    well I hope the commentators in here aren't the ones who degraded and had no respect for her earlier this year. that would be hypocrisy at its lowest possible level on a human scale.

    February 13, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  9. Eva

    Now THIS is the example of a strong, intelligent woman. =)

    February 13, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. Jen, Cali

    Boy, did Hillary get snookered! WHAT is her role at State? Everybody and his uncle has userped her role. Thanks, Obama - another one under your bus!

    February 13, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. bsmith171

    what does this washed up former lawyer know about foreign policy?

    February 13, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  12. Fan of Common Sense

    That look on her face is both incredibly dumb and incredibly scary all at the same time.

    February 13, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  13. Jeremy

    Wow... she looks completely psychotic in that photo... good job CNN! 🙂

    Way to go hillary! I'm so glad that you're doing a good job for us!

    February 13, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. Jan

    We all wish Sec Clinton the very best.

    February 13, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. Justified Cynic

    Hillary: Wipe that stupid look off your face. You won't be so happy when you finally realize that you were brought onboard only as a figurehead as a way of appeasing Bill. Hopefully they probably won't allow you to actually do anythging due to your obvious incompetence. The Bidens will have you ousted from the cabinet by July of next year.

    February 13, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. jaye

    We're standing with you, Hillary!

    February 13, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. Gerald C

    What is it with HRC and that face? It's way too happy. Someone has to tell her to make her smiles less crazed.

    February 13, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  18. yuri

    Show them who we are, Hillary! Your years of high quality experience, ironclad firmness, savoire faire, and that famous sangfroid of yours should come in handy in dealing with those N. Korean negotiators, in case you encounter 'em.

    We want to see your toughness make them shiver and shudder. You go Hillary! Bring glory to our country.

    February 13, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  19. TjayeInLA

    I believe she is in the right place. I supported her before Pres. Obama, but she lost fair and square and I think there is a reason for it. She will be a great SoS. She respects our reputation and the power we have as the USA, but she doesn't feel we are "superior" and entitled to run over other countries. As Bush's puppet, Condi had to play his game. One less thing to worry about. Now, maybe, other countries will stop hating us so much.

    February 13, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  20. Ben in Dallas

    I am so glad that Mrs. Clinton is going to asia as her first international trip. It is stabilizing asia that can help bring prosperity to africa and hopefully more friends in that region.

    February 13, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  21. Sara from Arizona

    Oh Lord, we have to look at her nasty face for 4 more years. I was hoping we would be done with the Clintons.

    February 13, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  22. ken

    How can Clinton sit there with a straight face and talk to North Korea and Iran after telling us time and time again that talking to them without preconditions is a bad idea?

    February 13, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  23. IK

    Besides insulting prior US leaders and policy, there nothing that Clinton is actually accomplishing. It the usual talk of action for NK promises, that they will ignore at a later date. The usual Clinton family kiss up to China (got to thank them somehome for all that '96 re-election money). And rubbish about working together (we must move forward, not backards, upwards, not downwards, and allways twiriling, twirling, twirling towards freedom).

    February 13, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  24. Ed

    Matthew, Detroit February 13th, 2009 5:09 pm ET
    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.
    EXACTLY! Hillary Clinton now has a ZILCH job. Another one under Obama's bus!

    What a shame! Hillary Clinton was a REAL alternative for our country - but now we have Barry-the-know-nothing!

    Congratulations, Dems!

    February 13, 2009 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  25. Know the facts

    Do people really believe that Hillary has an "unimportant" job?!

    First, her job is absolutely crucial, particularly with Iran and North Korea attempting to gain nuclear weapons. She will also have a crucial role in any Middle East peace efforts.

    Second, the job is what she makes it. Remember how no one thought that VP job mattered all that much until Dick Cheney came along?

    Clinton and Obama will be working closely together to fashion international policy. Clinton has never allowed anyone to throw her under the bus before, so why would she now? She knew she would have a good opportunity to have a significant role in repairing America's international image, that's why she took the job. Secretary of State is no throw-away job.

    February 13, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
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