Remarks with Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Seiji Maehara After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
January 6, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure once again to be hosting my colleague and counterpart. Minister Maehara and I have had a very comprehensive, wide-ranging discussion on a number of critical issues to our bilateral relationship and to regional and global security and prosperity. I am looking forward to the 2+2 meeting that will be held with Secretary Gates and with the minister and his counterpart, the defense minister, in the coming months. And I am delighted that we will host Prime Minister Kan on his official visit to the United States later this spring.

Because of the minister’s schedule requiring him to be at the White House shortly, I will issue the rest of my statement in a press release and allow the minister to make his statement and then we will answer your questions.

FOREIGN MINISTER MAEHARA: (Via interpreter) Well, it’s been only four months, or less than four months, since I assumed office as foreign minister, but this was my fourth meeting with Secretary Clinton and we spent a lot of time today to discover a broad ground and I was most happy to have had this meeting. And in the run-up to Prime Minister Kan’s visit to the United States, we had very useful and meaningful discussions on numerous significant issues, especially in the security area, which is the core of the deepening of our Japan-U.S. relations. I think it was very good that we could engage in discussions on various matters related to that. And since time is short, I will, through an appropriate person, provide a briefing to the press later on and tell you what sort of points we discussed.

In any case, on each of such matters that we discussed, we deepened our common understanding and we agreed that we will accelerate the work that – preparations towards the prime minister’s visit and achieve results on various issues. Thank you.

MR. CROWLEY: First question, Arshad Mohammed, Reuters.

QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, as you know, Prime Minister Gillani of Pakistan earlier today announced that he’s reversing the – Prime Minister Gillani of Pakistan today said that he’s reversing the fuel price hikes that went into effect on the 1st of the year. We have a Pakistani official estimating that these – this could cost – excuse me, an economist estimating this could cost the government as much as $58 million a month.

Given your publicly expressed view that Pakistan needs to do more to increase its revenues, what do you think about this decision? Are they putting – is the government putting political stability ahead of economic stability?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, as I have said on many occasions, we believe that the Government of Pakistan must reform its economic laws and regulations, including those that affect fuel and its cost. We have made it clear, as I did in a meeting with their Ambassador, that we think it is a mistake to reverse the progress that was being made to provide a stronger economic base for Pakistan, and we will continue to express that opinion.

MR. CROWLEY: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) with Asahi Shimbun. A question on Futenma relocation. Earlier, Secretary Clinton referred to 2+2 and the agreement on 2+2. I wonder if this will be an agreement on the site for relocation of Futenma. Minister Maehara stated that he will not set a deadline for that movement. I wonder what your views is.

And Secretary Clinton, have you reached an understanding with regard to Japanese position of not setting any deadline?

FOREIGN MINISTER MAEHARA: (Via interpreter.) At an appropriate time, we shall be holding a 2+2 meeting. We have agreed on that. Now, the – with regard to the content that is spelled out in the May 28th joint statement, we will advance whatever items that we can advance, and we agreed on that as well.

What is important is that on the Futenma relocation issue, we advance the work in accordance with the May 28th agreement, but this needs to be done with the agreement of the local community in Okinawa. We are seeing various provocative behavior of the DPRK and also, the security situation in the areas surrounding Japan and our region are changing, how we respond to that. The U.S. engagement will be very important in this regard. And the core of that U.S. presence is the U.S. Forces Japan, and we need to firmly maintain their presence. That is most important. So we will work on reducing (inaudible) on Okinawa and maintain deterrence with the presence of the U.S. forces, and we’ll strive to maintain both aspects.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I agree with the minister’s assessment that we have a challenging security environment in the East Asia region now. The United States is firmly committed to our alliance with Japan, and we continue to work on the full range of significant issues that are part of this bedrock security alliance, and of course, Futenma is part of that.

MR. CROWLEY: Jill Dougherty, CNN.

QUESTION: Thank you. Madam Secretary, the Congress, new Congress, came in – in fact, I’m sure you’ve been watching. And there could be some headaches ahead for you. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is going to be chairing the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She has said she’s against a lot of increases in foreign aid, and in fact, has a lot of doubts about it in general. She wants to cut the State Department budget. We also could have more China bashing. How do you expect or plan to work in this changed environment?

And then just one quick question – it’s been floating around today – this supposed arrest of an American woman in Iran, very conflicting information, but if there’s anything you could add, we’d appreciate it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, as you know, I served for eight years in the Senate. I served part of that time in the majority and part of that time in the minority, and I continued to work across the aisle with my colleagues on matters of importance to our country. That’s exactly what I intend to do with the new leadership and members of this Congress. I have a good working relationship with the Republican leadership, including the chairwoman of the committee in the House, and I think we’ll find a lot of common ground. There will be areas that – questions will be raised, and I intend to be always available to answer them.

With respect to the reports that we’ve seen about an arrest of an alleged American citizen, we have asked the Swiss, who are our protecting power in Iran, to please obtain as much information as possible, as soon as possible, to report to us whatever facts they can determine.

MR. CROWLEY: Last question from (inaudible) of Kyodo News.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I’m (inaudible) of Kyodo News Service. A question for both of you with regard to DPRK. You had the trilateral Japan-U.S.-ROK foreign ministers meeting, and it’s been one month since that meeting. Still, the tension between North and South continues. For the solution through a dialogue, what sort of actions do you think DPRK, China, and other countries concerned will need to take place? And I wonder what sort of exchange of views you had in the meeting today?

FOREIGN MINISTER MAEHARA: (Via interpreter) In the meeting today, we did, of course, spend time on DPRK-related issues. Last December, thanks to Secretary Clinton’s initiative, the foreign ministers of the three countries – Japan, U.S., and Republic of Korea – met together, engaged in in-depth exchange of views, and sought – shared our views that we will seek concrete actions by DPRK. And I think that was very meaningful, and following that meeting, Jim Steinberg visited Washington – Beijing and put the request to China from Japan. Mr. Saiki, director general of the Asian Affairs Bureau, visited Beijing and Moscow to share our views, and that – we agreed on working on DPRK through coordination among five countries, and I think this was very good.

I believe what is important is for DPRK to take concrete actions with sincerity, with good faith. And we believe that in the first place, North-South dialogue should take place, and if North Korea takes concrete actions, then I think – the Six-Party Talks that China is suggesting, there will be no reason for us to reject that. In any case, to seek a peaceful solution, we believe that the DPRK, which is engaging in provocative actions, refrain from further provocative – provocations and face the international community. And we would like to continue to confirm that point.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I agree with the minister. We are consulting very closely, even today. Ambassador Bosworth is in Tokyo to report on his recent visits to both Seoul and Beijing. But we are determined to move forward, to end the provocative behavior, and to once again focus on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Thank you.

PRN: 2011/018