Briefing in Bali, Indonesia

Special Briefing
Kurt M. Campbell
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Bali, Indonesia
July 22, 2011

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: So look, I would say beginning with the Secretary’s visit to India in which really a prime feature of that visit was highlighting that we believe that India’s Look East strategy is a key component of sort of the next phase of Asia’s growth. We are entering a period of really quite consequential diplomacy for the United States in Asia, probably more so than at any other period over the course of the last decade. This ASEAN Regional Forum has many sub-themes – the South China Sea, North-South engagement, issues associated with fledgling attempts to build architecture to build institutions and a whole range of development and transnational challenges. Playing out through that are a number of sub-themes – how is Japan coping with the tragedy it experienced several months ago, China’s dramatic rise as a great power in the Asian Pacific region, India’s entry and the issue of the U.S. role over the medium term.

After the Asian – after the meetings, the ASEAN Regional Forum meetings, we will be heading to Hong Kong for a consequential speech on economic policy and the direction the United States is going and also for meetings with Dai Bingguo. And then, just to give you guys a sense of the other sort of dimensions, almost immediately on return, Vice President Biden will be going to China, and this will be the really first extensive interactions that the American officials will have with Vice President Xi. And he will have detailed discussions with the U.S. team about the future direction of China, and what we might expect for U.S.-China relations. After that, really a substantial series of high-level meetings, the United States is hosting APEC, we will be going to the East Asia Summit for the first time, President Obama will be going to the East Asia Summit, a lot of intense interactions around trade issues – the Korea Free Trade Agreement, trans-Pacific partnership, and the like. So I think it would be fair to say that the next four months are loaded with import for the United States as we confront vexing and important challenges in the Asian Pacific region.

For the next two days, we will have a series of both what we might call bilateral and minilateral and institutional engagements. We’ll be meeting with our key partners to discuss a range of issues – bilaterals with South Korea, with the new foreign minister from Singapore, with China, other countries in Southeast Asia. We will be having a minilateral meeting – trilateral meeting between the United States, South Korea, and Japan. This trend is emerging, is a critical cornerstone of American strategy in Northeast Asia, very important to demonstrate our solidarity as we deal with North Korea. We will be establishing deeper contacts and a more regularized set of interactions between the three capitals. We’ve also had a series at lower levels of trilateral engagements with the United States, Indonesia, and Japan, and we will see a few other interactions, including Australia, over the course of the next couple of days.

So the agenda is loaded, the stakes are quite high for us. I think with that, why don’t I – just that’s sort of the overall background. I think it’d be fair to say that we’ve been working for months just to prepare for this period.

QUESTION: Does the preliminary agreement which was agreed on and approved yesterday make conflict any less likely, do you think? Has it lowered the temperature at all?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: I think you will hear today and tomorrow from our Indonesian interlocutors about their desire to move forward in really quite consequential diplomacy with ASEAN and with China, and the United States will support that.

PRN: 2011/T51-27