[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/15/us.clinton.asia.trip/art.clinton.gi.jpg caption="Hillary Clinton seeks improved relations with China, where she said the U.S. would renew military contacts."] ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska (CNN) - Hillary Clinton says her first overseas trip to Asia as secretary of state is aimed at creating a "network of partners" to tackle problems that no nation can deal with alone, including the global economic crisis.
En route to Asia on Sunday, Clinton told reporters that the economy would serve as the backdrop of her trip, and she intends to explain steps the United States is taking with its $787 billion stimulus bill. She said she will be "seeking cooperation on ways that we are going to work through these very difficult economic times."
Clinton is slated to travel to Japan, China, South Korea and Indonesia to discuss a range of issues, including mutual economic recovery, trade, the prevention of nuclear weapons proliferation and reversing the global warming trend.
The trip represents a departure from a diplomatic tradition under which the first overseas trip by the secretary of state in a new administration is to Europe.
Speaking at the New York-based Asia Society last week, Clinton said the Obama administration wants to "develop a broader and deeper" relationship with Asia, a region that has felt overlooked by the United States 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."