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Diplomacy in Action



Date: 02/13/2009 Description: Ask the Secretary graphic. State Dept Photo
Welcome to "Ask the Secretary" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Secretary Clinton.

In this session, Secretary Clinton answers questions taken during her trip to Asia, February 15-22, 2009. Secretary Clinton selected frequently asked questions and answered them here.

Date: 02/11/2009 Description: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton State Dept Photo
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Secretary Clinton: I welcome this opportunity to answer your questions about issues I've been discussing with government officials, business and civic leaders, and others during my trip to Asia. Listed below are my responses to questions raised during my travel to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China.


Secretary Clinton:

Thank you everyone for your questions regarding my time spent in Japan during the recent trip to Asia. Consider this a combined answer to your questions. Kate: diplomacy is often difficult to quantify; but I believe my visit to Japan was a success. The U.S.-Japanese alliance is indispensable for both of our countries, for the Asia-Pacific region, and for the world to address the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century.

By strengthening our historic Asian alliances, and forging new partnerships with emerging nations, we can begin to build networks around the world to help us solve problems that none of us can solve alone.

Lynn and Cynthia: my meetings in Japan ranged from top political leadership to college students, reflecting the depth and breadth of both government-to-government and people-to-people connections with Japan.

Foreign Minister Nakasone and I addressed energy and climate change and the global economic challenges especially critical to our two countries - the first and second largest economies in the world. Normita, Ken, and Paul, I was also very pleased to extend an invitation on behalf of President Obama to welcome Prime Minister Aso to Washington, D.C. and we also signed the Guam International Agreement on behalf of our two nations, enshrining our two nations’ shared contributions in carrying out the realignment of our forces and the relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam.

Cynthia in Maryland asks:
I work with high school and college students who have a keen interest in studying abroad, specifically Japan. I would like to know what new opportunities you will create for American student who wish to study abroad? (Feb. 17, 2009)

Lynn in New York asks:
How did you like meeting the Japanese students? What did they say and what was on their minds? What did you talk about? (Feb. 17, 2009)

Kate in Washington, DC asks:
Secretary Clinton: What metrics will you be using to measure success of your meetings and interactions as you begin your travel. What is the key/main theme as you arrive in Tokyo for you to address? (Feb. 16, 2009)

ASIA TRIP: Indonesia

Secretary Clinton:

Renne: Indonesia is the world’s third-largest democracy and a lynchpin for stability in Southeast Asia. In my meetings with Indonesian officials, including my meeting with Foreign Minister Wirajuda, we spoke foremost about the desire for Indonesia and the United States to form a comprehensive partnership that we believe will drive both democracy and development and that can provide a framework for advancing our common interests on a range of regional and global issues. Indonesia and the United States are both members of the G-20, and we have an obligation to help restore global growth and economic prosperity.

As part of this comprehensive partnership, my meetings with senior Indonesian officials covered a wide range of topics including: human rights issues, environmental protection and climate change, allowing the people of Burma to live freely and select their own leadership, bringing the Peace Corps back to Indonesia, renewing the Fulbright Scholarship Agreement, the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact committed to helping Indonesia reduce poverty and promote economic growth, and finally a framework for U.S. science and technology agencies to work with their Indonesian counterparts.

Patricia and Daniel: The Obama Administration believes that there are opportunities to engage with nations that have similar values and visions of the kind of future that we need to share. The United States and Asia certainly have a common future and Indonesia -- being the largest Muslim nation in the world, the third largest democracy --will play a leading role in the promotion of that shared future

Patricia in Washington asks:
Indonesia is the first predominantly Islamic nation you have visited as Secretary of State. Do you perceive any reservations, reluctance, or even animosity amongst Muslims toward U.S. attempts to renew our relationship with Islamic peoples and nations? (Feb. 19, 2009)

Daniel in Massachusetts asks:
How do you think our relationship with Indonesia will change, now that Obama is the President? (Feb. 19, 2009)

Renne in Indonesia asks:
When visiting Indonesia, are you going to raise a concern on some unfinished human rights issues in the country like what your predecessors did during President Clinton's administration? Moreover, my colleagues said that your visit to Jakarta is a merely symbolism considering that President Obama's once spent his childhood here and this visit will only bring a very few significance for the U.S. interest in this region. What do you think of such an opinion? (Feb. 16, 2009)

ASIA TRIP: South Korea

Secretary Clinton:

Andrew, Carmen, Jim, Michael and Laura: I cannot reiterate enough the commitment that the United States has to the denuclearization of North Korea, and to the prevention of further proliferation by the North Koreans. The Obama Administration is dedicated to working through the Six-Party Talks, and I discussed with South Korea, Japan, and China how best to get the negotiations back on track. We believe we have an opportunity to move these discussions forward, but it is incumbent upon North Korea to avoid any provocative action and unhelpful rhetoric toward South Korea.

Chip, Irene, Hank, Pranay, and Holly: The North Korean Government has committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and to return at an early date to the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. We continue to hold them to those commitments. If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama Administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s longstanding armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people.

Andrew in California asks:
Does the State Department consider the health of the dictator, Kim, of North Korea as an important factor is dealing with the North Koreans? What about the successor to Kim should he die? What would the U.S. policy be if the military took over North Korea since there is no named successor to Kim? South Korea and China both fear a sudden collapse of North Korea like East Germany. Refugees would flee to South Korea and China. Is there a contingency plan to help feed a starving nation of 16 million people? (Feb. 22, 2009)

Carmen in California asks:
When we say to N. Korea that we will respond well to them not firing off a test missile, what exactly are we offering? Money, food, or what? (Feb. 20, 2009)

Chip in West Virginia asks:
Do you have any real hope in breaking the very thick ice with North Korea? Will a regime change make any difference in the near future? (Feb. 19, 2009)

Irene in New York asks:
Dear Secretary of State: Why are we not mentioning to the North Koreans, humanatarian aide in exchange for American Prisoners of War that N. Korea is still holding from the Korean War. South Korea has made such a jester or their men, don't we care about Americans? (Feb. 18, 2009)

Hank in Virginia asks:
How does your approach to North Korea provide the expectation that it lead to abandonment of their nuclear program after so many failed attempts in the past? How does Kim Jong Il see the upside and become a supporter of openness when it appears to work against his interests in retaining power? (Feb. 18, 2009)

Pranay in New Jersey asks:
Dear Secretary Clinton: In your opinion what is the best way to negotiate with North Korea? Would Japan be a better partner in negotiations or would it be China? (Feb. 18, 2009)

Jim in Texas asks:
Madam Secretary Clinton: Do believe that North Korea is really serious about getting rid of its nuclear weapons program? (Feb. 17, 2009)

Holly in South Korea asks:
Hello! I am an English Teacher living outside of Seoul in Bucheon City. My question is how does the U.S. intend to strengthen its alliance with South Korea during the Obama administration and with Clinton's visit to South Korea? I have serious concerns about North Korea, and am really hoping that strong actions can be taken to reduce their nuclear arms or the possibility of them attaining anymore. Thanks. (Feb. 17, 2009)

Michael in South Korea asks:
6-party talks aimed at disarming Kim's regime with zero tolerance for him to have nuclear weapons... It's actually going nowhere... Is the U.S.A. going to resort to military action against Pyongyang should North Korea's nuke talks reaches dead end? (Feb. 17, 2009)

Laura in South Korea asks:
I'm from the U.S. and traveling through Korea. I was wondering if you will be making any public appearances here in South Korea? (Feb. 17, 2009)


Secretary Clinton:

Cheryl, Robert, Susan, Henggao, Erkanda, Monica, and Diane: In engaging China on a broad range of challenges, we had frank discussions on issues where we have disagreements, including human rights, Tibet, religious freedom, and freedom of expression. The promotion of human rights is an essential aspect of our global foreign policy, and something we discussed candidly with the Chinese leadership.

I raised the issue on every stop of my trip, including with the Chinese Foreign Minister. Our candid discussions are part of our approach, and human rights is part of our comprehensive agenda.

Jeremy, Marcelo, and Richard: At least as important in building respect for and making progress on human rights are the efforts of civil society institutions, NGOs, women's groups, academic institutions, and we support those efforts. I am proud to have highlighted the good work of institutions like these in each capital I visited during the trip including hosting a dinner in Indonesia promoting civil society, hosting town halls at universities in Japan and South Korean, and meeting with women leaders and journalists in several of the countries I visited.

Jeremy in Kentucky asks:
Can the U.S. demand the Chinese government to uphold basic human rights for its people. I hope human rights will be apart of the Obama administration policy around the world, and not just look at dollars and cents. (Feb. 22, 2009)

Marcelo in Brazil asks:
Madam Secretary: Good afternoon! Did you get a chance to talk about the human rigths to Chinese Prime Minister? (Feb. 22, 2009)

Cheryl in Indiana, DC asks:
Madam Secretary: With regard to human rights and China you were quoted as saying "But our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," Some interpreted this as giving ground on your previously, and eloquently, stated position on this very critical issue. How would you respond? Thank you. (Feb. 21, 2009)

Robert in Washington, DC asks:
I feel betrayed by your comments on the worth of human rights to our policy debates on China, truly betrayed. I trully think you need to take them back, clarify them, or resign. (Feb. 21, 2009)

Susan in Colorado asks:
What is your primary focus in Asia? Human rights is number 1 issue in China. Environment of developing China is number 2 priority. What do you purpose to China in making a combined effort in improving human rights and their environment while continuing to develop? Will the President address these issues in his comments on foreign policy on Tuesday? How can I support raising the age limit for civil and foreign service candidates? Thank you for all you do. (Feb. 21, 2009)

Diane in Arkansas asks:
Did you feel good after leaving China and those in chains as you stood on your statement of "Human rights cannot interfere"? Brush up on the human rights issues in China before making such a statement. (Feb. 21, 2009)

Henggao in New Jersey asks:
Secreatary of State Clinton: If you need to visit China, you need to understand China's full history because Tibet has been part of China for a long time. (Feb. 20, 2009)

Monica in California asks:
I am very concerned about the well-being of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule and wonder if you could bring up the question of Tibetan cultural autonomy when you are in China. (Feb. 18, 2009)

Richard in Massachusetts asks:
Madam Secretary: What position do you think the U.S. should take towards China? Given current circumstances, especially with the economic crisis, China has become integral towards U.S. interests in the Pacific. How do you balance the fine line between economics, while also paying attention to issues such as human rights, free speech, freedom of religion, etc.? (Feb. 16, 2009)

Erkanda in New York asks:
Dear Secretary Clinton: I ask you to hear the growing number of Americans requesting that you clearly and publicly condemn the human rights violations by the Chinese government, particularly the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China, one of the gravest and most widespread in the country, when you meet with Chinese leaders during your first visit to China due February 20-22. This will give hope to the many practitioners in China suffering in prisons and labor camps that their voice is heard. Last year the persecution became even more severe as China tried to hide its ugly face during the Olympics. According to the latest report published by the Falun Dafa Information Center, 8,000 Falun Gong practitioners were detained and suffered torture and maltreatment during 2008. During your speech on the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr’s trip to India, you said that “...the struggle for civil rights and justice has always been and continues to be a global mission;” I hope that you put this to practice and make it an important point in your discussion agenda with the Chinese leaders. It is essential that we continue to send a clear message to the communist Chinese leaders that the whole world is witnessing this persecution and that it must stop! (Feb. 16, 2009)

ASIA TRIP: General

Peter: That’s a great question. The U.S. Government has a small number of planes which members of the President’s cabinet can use when we need to travel. These planes have enough space for me, my staff, and sometimes even a few journalists, to travel long distances together. Their communication system allows me to work when I am flying, and on these longer flights, we are able to accomplish a lot while in route.

Peter in Wisconsin asks:
Dear Secretary of State Clinton: How do you or members of the Presidents Cabinet travel from point A to B? Is it just any airline or is it with Airforce 1? Thank you. Respectfully yours. (Feb. 16, 2009)


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