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Albright at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference

Albright Intervention at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright Intervention at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference ("10+10") Meeting Bangkok, Thailand, July 28, 2000 As released by the Office of the Spokesman U.S. Department of State

(Text as prepared for release)

Fellow ministers and distinguished colleagues, it is a special privilege for me to represent the United States of America at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference for the fourth time. During these four years, I have grown to know most of you personally and feel that together we have made considerable progress in addressing regional issues.

I want to first express the appreciation and admiration of the United States for the superb leadership Thailand has given as ASEAN Chair this year. The creativity and energy that Foreign Minister Surin and his Ministry brought to this task have pushed forward the development of the PMC.

In my years attending the PMC on behalf of the United States, I have seen the "habit of dialogue" promoted by ASEAN truly take root in Southeast Asia. This has increased the region's security and stability and contributed to its economic development.

ASEAN has provided a forum for national leaders and other senior officials to meet and get to know one another on a personal basis. When problems arise, our leaders are able to address them by turning directly to one another. This web of relationships has helped to build mutual confidence and trust, and contributed to the well-being of the entire Asia Pacific community.

Regional Economic Issues: Economic Recovery

The stiffest test for ASEAN in recent years has been, without question, the financial and economic crisis that began about three years ago. It is a test that ASEAN is passing.

As we meet, this region has advanced well beyond the tentative signs of renewed health we noted so hopefully at the PMC in Singapore one year ago. ASEAN is now moving into its second year of economic recovery. The hard decisions that some ASEAN nations had the courage to make on banking reform and privatization are paying off. And a firmer foundation for sustained economic growth is being built.

Together, we must strive diligently to ensure that the crisis just past is not repeated. The United States is prepared to assist as the process of reform goes forward in such areas as improved financial supervision and corporate restructuring.

We know that just as the nature of the world economy is changing dramatically, so must the regional economy here in Southeast Asia. Future stability and growth will depend on a combination of factors, including market fundamentals (competition, regulation, investment); electronic initiatives (Internet readiness, paperless trading); and a web of connections to electronic commerce (air services, customs procedures, education and training, and product safety standards). A critical component of this effort will be strengthening the rule of law and curbing official corruption and cronyism. The new world economy will be based on open markets, open books and open lines of communication.

Under President Clinton's leadership, the United States has continued to work through the WTO, and with regional partners such as ASEAN and APEC, to advance the global trade agenda, including the launch of a new Round. We believe strongly that all countries stand to benefit from lowering trade barriers and strengthening the global trading system. The U.S. also seeks to address the trade needs of least-developed countries (LDCs) and to facilitate their integration into the multilateral trading system.

To this end, we support measures to provide technical assistance and improve market access for the LDCs, and to relax certain deadlines on meeting WTO commitments. We have also joined with other leading industrial nations in proposing to implement tariff-free and quota-free treatment for virtually all products originating in LDCs.

We are very pleased that the United States and Vietnam recently signed a bilateral trade agreement which will yield significant dividends to the people of both our countries.

In addition, the Clinton Administration is continuing to work with our Senate in support of Permanent Normal Trading Relations for China, and in anticipation of China's entry into the WTO-- which we believe will benefit the entire Asia Pacific community.

Economic Assistance and Human Resources Development

While the United States believes that "trade, not aid" is the best way to foster sustainable economic development, it realizes that assistance can play a useful role in jumpstarting development and in responding to disasters. To this end, we continue a program of carefully targeted development aid to the ASEAN region.

This assistance increased from $201 million in 1999 to $226 million this year. The U.S.-Asia Environmental Partnership (USAEP) works with several ASEAN countries to meet the environmental challenges of rapid industrial and urban growth, managing natural resources, and creating sustainable development. The new Environmental Diplomacy Fund (EDF) sponsors environmental projects worldwide, including Southeast Asia.

USAID's Accelerating Economic Recovery in Asia (AERA) program has provided more than $50 million in technical help to countries affected by the financial crisis. And in FY'98, the most recent year for which numbers are available, 6,210 grantees from ASEAN countries participated in exchange programs hosted by 23 separate U.S. departments and independent agencies.

Humanitarian and disaster assistance is another staple of U.S. assistance in ASEAN nations. USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and other U.S. agencies provided more than $90 million in such assistance during the past two years.

Finally, human resources development is one of the keys to national development in the new global economy. The United States welcomes more than 45,000 students from ASEAN nations who are currently attending our universities, many on scholarships. The majority of these students are studying engineering, science, and business -- specialties needed by their home countries to compete in the global economy.

Transnational Issues

In today's era of globalization, many of the most compelling opportunities and dangers pay little heed to national boundaries. That is why transnational cooperation is increasingly vital, and why ASEAN and the PMC are so important.

The United States and most ASEAN nations cooperate closely on a range of transnational issues, from fighting international crime to protecting the environment. In framing the U.S. approach, we have used ASEAN's own Hanoi Plan of Action (HPA) as a guide.

For example, the HPA highlights the importance of curbing the production and trafficking of illegal narcotics. This is both a regional imperative and a global priority of American foreign policy.

Accordingly, the United States applauds ASEAN's decision to advance the date for a drug-free ASEAN from 2020 to 2015, and we are willing to do all we can to help achieve this goal. The U.S. already supports a number of counternarcotics programs in the ASEAN region implemented both bilaterally and through the UN Drug Control Program. By working together to halt drug production and trafficking and to reduce demand we can advance the goal of making ASEAN drug free.

One new and important asset in our joint efforts is the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Bangkok, which has become a center for training and cooperation in fighting transboundary crime. The United States is proud to join with Thailand in sponsoring this facility. And we are pleased, as well, to have been able to provide temporary development assistance and computer equipment to the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime.

As the HPA reflects, a growing and highly invidious type of crime in Southeast Asia and worldwide is trafficking in human beings, especially women and children. The United States strongly supports the Plan of Action forged at the Asian Regional Initiative Against the Trafficking of Women and Children (ARIAT) workshop in Manila earlier this year. And I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Labor will provide $1 million to the ILO's International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor in order to develop projects to combat the trafficking of children in Southeast Asia.

Our East Asia and Pacific Environmental Initiative has provided $8 million over the past two years in support of sustainable development in the ASEAN region. This involves a broad range of projects, including forest management, forest fire and haze control, and coral reef protection. I am pleased to announce that this year the Environmental Initiative will fund another $3.5 million in new projects, including protection of biodiversity in Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand; preservation of coral reefs in Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia; and continuation of forest management and forest fire/haze control in Indonesia.

Health is also a top priority for U.S. assistance in Southeast Asia. USAID, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health, and other U.S. health agencies are engaged in a large number of research and treatment projects on HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases. And President Clinton recently launched a global initiative to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on economic growth and political stability.

Unfortunately, Southeast Asia is one of the regions most seriously affected by HIV/AIDS. There may be as many as one million HIV-infected adults in Thailand; and the epidemics in Burma and Cambodia are growing at an alarming rate. There is no greater danger to the health and security of this region.

The United States has been and will continue to work closely with ASEAN nations to address this threat. Both CDC and our Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences have cooperated with counterparts in Thailand to battle infectious diseases. The results include vaccines against encephalitis and hepatitis A, and the use of AZT in third trimester pregnancies to cut HIV transmission to infants. In Jakarta, the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit has been working with Indonesian medical authorities to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS in that country. Efforts are underway to link these and other programs into a coordinated Southeast Asia initiative.

Under the Common Agenda, Japan and the United States are increasing joint efforts to fight infectious disease in Southeast Asia. Last month, a joint U.S.-Japan expert mission visited Cambodia to investigate areas for cooperative activities to combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious and parasitic diseases, and to increase support for child and maternal health.

International Political Issues

As was evidenced yesterday at the ASEAN Regional Forum, the nations of the Asia Pacific continue to work together for the purpose of enhancing our common security and prosperity.

The United States is doing all it can to contribute to this effort through its support for international peace, global development, democracy and respect for human rights.

Accordingly, we were pleased by the outcome of the G-8 Summit that was so successively hosted by Japan this past week. There the leaders of the major industrialized democracies released the Okinawa Charter on Global Information Society.

The Charter sets out agreed principles and objectives for creating sustainable economic growth, enhancing public welfare, fostering social inclusiveness, and strengthening democracy, human rights, good governance and cultural diversity.

The G8 Leaders agreed to promote a "Culture of Prevention" to address discord without the use of force and to adopt a "Comprehensive Approach" to mobilize all available measures at every stage of conflict. They also discussed issues of crime, aging societies, biotechnology, the Human Genome project, the environment and regional issues.

The United States is active, often in cooperation with members of ASEAN, in supporting peace and strengthening political ties around the world. Examples include our support for movement toward reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, our backing for the UN peace operation in East Timor, and our participation in international efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo. And we work to help nations on every continent make the transition to full and vibrant democracy.

Moreover, as we have just witnessed at Camp David, President Clinton has shown that America is willing to go the extra mile in support of the possibility of peace in the Middle East. The Camp David Summit has ended, but our hopes for peace, the need for peace and the compelling logic of peace are all unchanged. When the parties are ready to build further on the progress made during these past two weeks, we will be fully prepared to assist them.


In closing, I would like to commend ASEAN for its accomplishments. Its members have ridden out some difficult storms. But, on the whole, this region is more united, more democratic, and better able to create the kind of economic growth and prosperity that will last than it has ever been.

The United States is pleased and proud to work as a partner with ASEAN, and to participate in these meetings. Year by year, we are building a true sense of community throughout the Asia Pacific. And I hope that, as time goes by, we will continue to expand our cooperation to the benefit of all our peoples.

[End of Document]

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