Secretary Clinton Thailand News Round-Up
I’ve rounded up a few of today’s news excerpts from Secretary Clinton’s second full day in Thailand. I’m currently trying to get my hands on the video of the interview she did with Thailand’s Nation TV but thus far, no luck. If and when I get it, I’ll add it to this post.
From the Nation:
The signing by the United States this week of a friendship pact with Southeast Asia sends a strong signal of its desire to deepen ties and counter China’s increasing influence, diplomats said.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will ink the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation on Wednesday in the Thai resort of Phuket during a meeting with her counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Washington has been reluctant to sign the non-aggression pact for years, fearing it would leave little room for it to exert its influence on political and security issues in the region of nearly 600 million people.
But a resurgent China signed the treaty in 2003 to broaden its influence, and amid lingering suspicions that the US refusal showed the region was beneath its diplomatic radar, Washington has finally relented. “Apparently the US has decided that the benefits of signing outweigh the costs,” former ASEAN secretary general Rodolfo Severino told AFP.
The signing comes on the eve of the annual ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), Asia’s foremost gathering on security issues involving countries such as China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the EU.
Southeast Asian ministers in a joint statement on Monday “welcomed the impending accession by the United States” to the treaty “as a strong signal of its commitment to peace and security in the region.”
While in Thailand, Secretary Clinton has been discussing North Korea’s provocations and a possible US response:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that North Korea must agree to “irreversible” denuclearisation before returning to multilateral disarmament talks.
Pyongyang would receive a package of incentives only if it agreed to completely dismantle its nuclear weapons programme, she said, after North Korea withdrew from the talks following recent missile and atomic weapons tests.
“Complete and irreversible denuclearisation is the only viable path for North Korea,” she said in Phuket after meeting her counterparts from Russia, China, Japan and South Korea, the other parties in the talks.
“We have made it very clear to the North Koreans that if they will agree to irreversible denuclearisation, the United States as well as our partners will move forward on a package of incentives and opportunities including normalising relations,” she told reporters on the eve of Asia’s biggest security forum.
“We do not intend to reward North Korea just for returning to the table, nor do we intend to reward them for actions they have already committed to taking and then reneged on,” Clinton added.
“The path is open to them and it is up to them to follow it. Unless and until they do, they will face international isolation and the unrelenting pressure of global sanctions.”
In other words, Secretary Clinton has let Kim Jong Il know that the US has opened the door and it is his choice whether or not he wants to walk through it.
And for better or worse, the Secretary was asked about her working relationship with President Obama:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that President Obama agreed to give her “an enormous amount of authority . . . really everything I asked for” before she agreed to take the job of chief U.S. diplomat.
Clinton made the remarks during an expansive one-hour interview with Thai television in Bangkok before she flew to this resort island for a regional security forum. The interview with two energetic questioners took place before a live audience in a former king’s palace built in 1909.
Clinton said she was “very surprised” when her former rival for the Democratic nomination asked her to become secretary of state. “He said, ‘Look, I really need you and I believe that we can have a great relationship.’ And we do. It’s been everything I could have hoped for,” Clinton said.
She added that her first response when Obama called her was to give him a list of names of people she thought “would be so much better. . . . But as you have seen watching on TV, he is very persuasive.”
Speculation has risen in official Washington that Clinton has lost some of her luster and the State Department has been sidelined, with much of the foreign-policy power residing in the White House. But Clinton dismissed that, saying the rumors were the result of her reduced travel schedule after she broke her elbow in June.
“What happened is I broke my elbow. Very sad. I tripped and fell, but luckily I didn’t hit my head. I hit my elbow and it broke in two,” Clinton said. She then had to cancel plans to do a solo European trip and to join the president on another trip to Russia.
“I’m not with the president on the trip and all of sudden everyone said ‘Ooooh . . . she’s disappeared.’ I’m thinking, gosh, I’m here, actually here.”
Ok, everybody got that?
Goodness, what on earth will the MSM do now that she’s debunked that silly media theme? Bonnie Erbe will have to find something else to exaggerate and speculate about. *Ahem* I have an idea- maybe the MSM could cover her daily working schedule when she gets back to the States- you know, the daily bilaterals, trilaterals, working groups, press-conferences, joint statements with foreign dignitaries, town halls and the like? You know, news.