Remarks at APEC Singapore Conference

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Suntec Conference Center
November 11, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon. Thank you very much for coming here this afternoon. Before I get started on my comments concerning the important meetings being held here at the APEC ministerial, I want to take a moment to recognize the fact that today is Veteran’s Day in the United States, and I want to acknowledge the veterans and our men and women in uniform and their families, many of whom are deployed in very difficult places around the world. I cannot emphasize enough our appreciation for their dedication and sacrifice.

Here in Singapore, we’ve had a productive day of discussion, covering the full range of regional and global issues confronting our nations. I have stressed the Obama Administration’s commitment to substantive cooperation. That is a commitment that I have felt very strongly about and made clear on my first trip as Secretary of State to Asia earlier this year. And when President Obama arrives here later this week, he will underscore our view that APEC is an essential forum for engagement and for common action.

I very much appreciate the hard work that Singapore has put in to making this meeting a success, and I thanked the two co-chairs of the ministerial, Minister Yoh, and Minister Lim, for their leadership. During this morning’s APEC foreign ministers breakfast, we covered major regional security issues. North Korea’s nuclear program is of foremost concern, and the United States is committed to making progress on this issue.

Our Special Representative for North Korea Policy, Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, will visit Pyongyang in the near future. The decision to send him was reached after extensive consultation with our partners in the Six-Party process. They share our view that Ambassador Bosworth can use this opportunity to press the basic principles of the September 2005 joint statement, including full, peaceful, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and work toward the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.

We have made the purpose and parameters of this visit clear to the North Koreans. This is not a negotiation; it is an effort to pave the way toward North Korea’s return to the Six-Party process. Let me emphasize that our expectations of Pyongyang have not changed and will not change, nor has our commitment to the Six-Party process. We will use diplomacy and we will work closely with our partners to find a peaceful path to our shared objective on the Korean Peninsula.

We also discussed the United States approach to Burma. We have begun engaging the Burmese authorities in high-level dialogue to advance our goals of democratic reforms and human rights. Burma’s neighbors and members of ASEAN have an especially important role to play in encouraging the Burmese Government to move forward on reform, to start a meaningful internal dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi, political parties, and ethnic minorities; and to hold credible, fair elections in 2010. I reiterated that U.S. sanctions will remain in place until we see meaningful progress in key areas.

In the ministerial meetings and over lunch through the rest of the day, we discussed a wide range of economic and foreign policy issues, especially expanding trade and ensuring sustainable and inclusive growth. I talked about American efforts to advance development and spread opportunity through increased funding and new initiatives.

And I want to say a few words about the pressing global challenge that will be a focus of attention in the coming weeks as we move toward the meeting in Copenhagen. We’ve had fruitful discussions today on climate change. The United States has taken dramatic steps in the past year to change the way we use energy at home, and we have taken our seat at the table in international climate negotiations. We believe all nations have a responsibility to address this urgent global challenge, and we are prepared to assume our share of responsibility.

Going forward, we are committed to reaching the goal of a global, legally binding climate agreement. And we will continue working vigorously with the international community toward that end. If we all exert maximum effort and embrace the right blend of pragmatism and principle, I believe we can secure a strong outcome at Copenhagen, and that would be a stepping stone toward full legal agreement. We cannot let the pursuit of perfection stand in the way of progress, but there are clear metrics by which we will judge the result at Copenhagen.

First, any agreement must involve immediate global action in which all nations do their fair share. We cannot afford further delay. Second, any agreement should cover all of the major issues, including adaptation, financing, technology cooperation, dissemination of technology, forest preservation, and others. It should include a commitment to strong mitigation actions like national reduction targets for developed countries and actions by major developing countries that will reduce their emissions significantly compared to business as usual.

Third, any agreement must include a commitment to a system that will ensure transparency and accountability with regard to the implementation of domestic actions. Fourth, any agreement must endorse funding facilities to assist developing countries. We are prepared to support a global climate fund that will support adaptation and mitigation efforts and a matching entity to help developing countries match needs with available resources. Funding through the new global climate fund and a technology mechanism will help developing countries identify what they need, where to get it, and how to finance, operate, and maintain it.

These are the yardsticks we will use to measure the outcome. But under any circumstance, Copenhagen is not the end of the process. It is part of our larger collective commitment to hold ourselves and others accountable, to speed the transition to a low-carbon global economy, and to leave a cleaner, greener planet for our children and grandchildren. So as we emerge from Copenhagen, we have to continue on this course with urgency and resolve.

Again, I thank our hosts here in Singapore for their excellent hospitality and planning of these meetings, and I would be happy to take some of your questions.

MODERATOR: We have time for a few questions. Are there questions? Dave Gollust from Voice of America.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary --

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, here comes a microphone, Dave.

QUESTION: Oh, I’m sorry. Okay. Do you have any indication from Kurt Campbell’s initial soundings with the Burmese that they really will be amenable to changing the political setup that they have for next year? And would the return of Aung San Suu Kyi herself to political life in Burma be a condition for a more normal United States relationship with Burma?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Dave, as you know, we had two very high American diplomats, Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell and Deputy Assistant Secretary Scot Marciel, go to Burma last week and spend a considerable amount of time meeting with not only government officials, but also in a private meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, members of political opposition and ethnic groups. It was a very thorough and constructive set of visits, and the United States is committed to a process to try to encourage and support Burma’s path to democracy.

There is a lot of work to do. We have no illusions that any of this will be easy or quick. But we have consulted broadly with our allies and partners in this region, particularly within ASEAN, and we have a lot of solidarity as we move forward with what is a more calibrated approach. We’re seeking to see a process inside Burma that would inspire and permit dialogue among all of the stakeholders so that there could be a growing consensus within Burma itself about the way forward.

This is a very challenging situation, as many of the countries represented here at this meeting can attest, but the United States is committed to moving forward and staying in close consultation with the parties inside Burma as well as other countries that share our goal for a more peaceful, stable, democratic Burma.

We think this has to be resolved within the Burmese people themselves, so we are not setting or dictating any conditions. We want to help facilitate the space and opportunity for the Burmese people to try to work out the challenges they face in having free and credible elections and setting forth a plan for a more prosperous and peaceful future.

MODERATOR: Next question, Sondang Sirait from SCTV Indonesia.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, we know that you held a meeting with the Indonesian foreign minister this morning. If you could tell us about what you talked about in the meeting? And also about the upcoming meeting between President Obama and President SBY this weekend?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we had an excellent meeting with the foreign minister today. We covered a broad range of issues, some affecting our bilateral relationship, some affecting regional and other global issues. And I think it would be fair to say that it was such a comprehensive discussion that we ran out of time before we each had to get back to our respective responsibilities. But I am very impressed by the foreign minister. His grasp of the issues that – not only his country, but to – all of us now face. His principled and pragmatic approach toward working through those issues was extremely impressive, and I look forward to working with him.

We will be establishing our strategic dialogue between our two countries, and we also anticipate seeing Indonesia play a larger and larger role in the region and on the global stage, as it is doing, for example, in the G-20. In particular, the experience that Indonesia has over the last 10 years of transitioning to a vibrant democracy, we believe, is very relevant in Asia, and in particular, in Burma. And we have learned a lot from our conversations with our Indonesian counterparts.

We really congratulated the minister, and of course, President SBY for a very impressive win and an electoral victory. There will be a great deal for our presidents to discuss when they see each other here over the weekend. I know that President Obama has a very special place in his heart for Indonesia and is looking forward to visiting soon. There is just a very positive relationship between our two countries, and we want to broaden and deepen that and take it to a new level.

MODERATOR: Next question, Lachlan Carmichael from AFP.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, three questions on North Korea: Do you support, does the United States support the South Korean version of events that the North Korean boat crossed in – crossed the border? And with whom did you discuss this today? And finally, do you have any second thoughts about sending Ambassador Bosworth to North Korea in light of these events? I think the goal was to send him there by the end of the year.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Lachlan, as you know, there have been flare-ups of the sort we have seen over the last day between North and South Korea over a number of years. There is a set of issues around territorial waters that often serve as a backdrop to this kind of confrontation. I have no reason to question the accounts that we are receiving. We are obviously hoping that the situation does not escalate, and we’re encouraged by the calm reaction that has been present up until now.

I’ve spoken, obviously, with my team back in Washington and with Kurt Campbell and the others who have responsibility for this region while we’ve been here. But this does not in any way affect our decision to send Ambassador Bosworth. We think that is an important step that stands on its own. It is connected to our efforts, along with our Six-Party partners, to move toward resumption of the Six-Party process. We think that is critically important.

So we are certainly counseling calm and caution when it comes to any kind of dispute, especially one that can cause repercussions and damage that could be quite difficult to contend with. But at the same time, we’re moving ahead with our planned visit for Ambassador Bosworth.

MODERATOR: The last question will go to Channel News Asia, Augustine Anthuvan.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I’d just like to revisit the question my colleague asked earlier about Myanmar. It’s significant for ASEAN, and of course, there is a substantial Burmese community here in Singapore. Secretary Campbell, when he spoke before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, he emphasized, underscored to senior Chinese Government officials the need for Beijing to play a positive role in promoting reform in Burma. I’d like to hear your thoughts, ma’am, on expanding on what exactly you would like to see from China.

And a related question, of course, is that you said it’s very much left to the people of Myanmar to see how things unfold in 2010 for the elections. But what sort of role can ASEAN play in terms of on-the-ground, independent observers during the elections? Thank you very much, ma’am.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, and I think those are important questions because we need a broad response by the nations in the region. Certainly, China has the opportunity to play a very positive role, as does Thailand, India, and other ASEAN countries. We would like to see countries individually and through ASEAN reach out to the Burmese leadership, persuade them that it is time to start planning for free, fair and credible elections in 2010 – 2010 is nearly here – that it would be useful to have validation of those elections. And again, countries in the region and certainly, institutionally, ASEAN can offer support to ensure that the elections are viewed as credible.

But I think it’s also important to recognize that left alone, the internal problems within Burma are not confined within Burma’s borders. We’ve seen refugee flows out of Burma, people taking to boats, ending up in Malaysia, ending up in Indonesia, ending up in Australia, crossing the border into Thailand. That instability is not good for anyone. Any country that does business in Burma wants to be sure that their investments and their business are safe. And the best way to ensure that is to move toward democracy and the kind of stability that democracy creates, the kind of investment climate that will attract even more businesses.

So we look to all the countries in the region to play a role, and we particularly anticipate ASEAN playing a significant role. I mean, if we’re able to encourage the Burmese leadership to meet in dialogue with representatives of various aspects of Burmese society, we hope that that can be encouraged by other nations and by ASEAN, maybe facilitated by ASEAN, because planning for these elections must be a priority, and how it is monitored is something to be discussed and analyzed.

But what’s important is getting some confidence that these will be free, fair, and credible elections. Otherwise, the Burmese leadership and the results of the election will not have international legitimacy. And since the Burmese leadership has said they want to have such elections, we hope that they will work with us to try to make sure that those elections gain credibility and that their results are respected globally.

Thank you very much.

PRN: 2009/T15-11