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Wolfowitz Remarks at the IISS Asian Security Conf.

Wolfowitz Remarks at the IISS Asian Security Conference

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense

DoD News Briefing Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz Saturday, May 31, 2003

Thank you, John. I am delighted that the Shangri-La conference is back for a return engagement and I am delighted to be back again, myself, and very honored to be here sharing the podium with two distinguished Senators like Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed. These two gentlemen, I think, are testimony to the kind of continuity and bi-partisanship that is brought to American foreign policy by those distinguished members of Congress who devote special time and attention to foreign policy and national security matters and I can assure you it is not exactly the top of constituent priorities, so they do it at some political cost, and that's even more appreciated.

This second Asian security conference will build on the success of the first and it is an important vehicle for promoting understanding through dialogue about issues important to the entire international community. I commend all the nations who have taken this opportunity to build the relationships in the region that is so vital to solving the challenges that we face.

As John Chipman noted, I have spent a lot of time working in East Asia over the last 20 years. I still remember when I was moved from being the head of the Policy Planning staff in the State Department, twenty years ago, to becoming Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs, as head of Policy Planning, I think I spent 80-90 % of my time working on Middle-East issues and moving to East Asia was like coming out of a dark, stuffy room into a great breath of fresh air. To be dealing with people who were solving problems instead of creating problems was really quite wonderful. I must say it feels a little bit like déjà vu all over again to be back in Asia. It is a good feeling.

One of the messages that I would like to convey this morning, not only on behalf of myself, but on behalf of Secretary Rumsfeld and the President, is three things. First, that the United States understands how important East Asia is; secondly, that we understand that the future security and stability of this region is key to our own security as well. And third, that the United States remains committed to playing its role in promoting East Asian security. We understand how important that commitment is for peace and stability in this important part of the world.

I am also here to have the opportunity to hear from our Asian partners their views about how peace and stability can best be sustained in the Asia-Pacific region. And I would like to give a special thank you to our Singaporean hosts who have played a particularly strong role over the last 10 years in assisting the United States in maintaining its presence in this part of the world and sustaining our commitments.

When I spoke last year, my basic message was that terrorism is everybody's problem. In the 12 months since the last conference, that truth was brought tragically home to this region by the brutal attack in Bali -- one of the worst terrorist attacks ever. Along with Indonesia, Australia was hit particularly hard. I believe, as a proportion of its population, hit nearly as hard as we were on September 11.

At a memorial service at Washington National Cathedral last fall that our Australian allies held to remember the countrymen they'd lost, Australian Ambassador Michael Thawley summed up the larger message of the tragedy. He cited Prime Minister Howard, who said, and I am quoting: "Our backyard leads on to the street and off that street there are many other backyards&."

Indeed, as with September 11th, the lesson of Bali was a lesson for every country. Westerners may have been the immediate targets, but the impacts reverberated throughout Indonesia and Southeast Asia. While the terrorists may regard their attacks as a tactical success, I believe they were, in fact, a strategic failure. The attack in Bali galvanized Indonesian resolve to fight terrorists and strengthened international cooperation to go after terrorists in Indonesia. The Indonesian people now understand that the terrorists target them and terrorist actions aim to destabilize their country, hurt their economy and obstruct Indonesia's progress to building democratic institutions.

I must say that we are impressed by the professionalism of the Indonesian authorities, and in particular the Indonesian police, in pursuing the Bali bombers and starting to bring them to justice.

Indeed, looking at the overall global war on terrorism, I can say that we have made some remarkable progress in the last year, and particularly in the last few months, in capturing and killing terrorists and breaking up terrorist networks. Just a few of the most important examples which I'm sure that you are familiar with, but it is worth mentioning. Last June, Omar al Farouq, al Qaeda's Southeast Asia chief was arrested; his interrogation helped reveal the depth of the network in this region. Last August, here in Singapore, 21 people affiliated with Jemaah Islamiya were caught and major attacks were prevented. Last September, key September 11th operative, Ramzi Binalshibh, was arrested in Pakistan. Perhaps most important of all, in March, al Qaeda Operations Chief Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the September 11th attacks, was captured, also in Pakistan. So was Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, who paid the hijackers. At the end of April, Walid bin Attash, a top al Qaeda operations man, who masterminded the attack on the USS Cole, was captured, again in Pakistan. And paymaster Ali Abd al-Aziz was also arrested.

Those are just some of the more prominent cases. As of the end of last year, More than 3,000 al Qaeda members have been detained in more than 100 countries. This demonstrates the impressive international cooperation in the global war against terror.

But, even that significant progress obviously does not mean that we have won the war. It is going to be a long, hard fight, and the recent attacks in Morocco and Saudi Arabia demonstrate that fact, if any demonstration were needed. Terrorists are still out there, still plotting their brutal attacks to draw innocent blood. But like September 11 and Bali, I believe the bombing in Riyadh may prove to be a wakeup call, this time for the Saudis. Again the terrorists achieved a tactical success, but at a strategic price.

The Saudis are pursuing terrorists in their own country now with a vigor that we have not seen before, and they have freer hand to do so because of our success in Iraq. That success not only eliminated a threat to Saudi Arabia, but it also eliminated the enormous burden that the containment policy had required over the last 12 years -- the burden of sustaining large U.S. forces on Saudi territory engaged in almost daily combat over Iraq. It is helpful that two weeks before those attacks in Riyadh, Secretary Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Sultan bin Abdul Aziz were able to agree on the withdrawal of those U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia, since they were no longer needed.

The defeat of Saddam Hussein is a victory in the war on terrorism. It deprives terrorists of sanctuaries, of material and moral support, and of a potential source of weapons of mass terror. Moreover, Saddam's defeat is a salutary example for those who might think of emulating him.

But the defeat of Saddam Hussein presents challenges and opportunities in what I think could be considered the second front in the war on terrorism. That second front was described by President Bush in his State of the Union message last year, that same speech in which he spoke about the "Axis of Evil." The President also said that the war against terrorism is about more than just about killing and capturing terrorists. It's also about building, in the President's words, " a just and peaceful world beyond the war on terror," and particularly in the Muslim world.

In the aftermath of the Saddam Hussein regime, there are two immediate challenges in that regard in the Muslim world-challenges that are also large opportunities: the challenge and opportunity of advancing the Arab-Israeli peace process, and the challenge and opportunity of building a new and free Iraq. Let me say a few words about each of those.

This coming week, President Bush is going to the Middle East for an important meeting with leaders of Arab states in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, and then, with Prime Ministers Sharon and Abbas in Aqaba, Jordan. The President hopes to consolidate regional support for the Middle-East road map during these summit meetings, including, among other things, commitments by the Arab countries to halt terrorist funding for Palestinian groups and to support Palestinian efforts in the peace process; Palestinian commitments to fight terror and to reform their own institutions; and, Israeli commitments to start dismantling outpost settlements.

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, often, maybe, more popularly known by his nom de guerre, Abu Mazen, have now accepted that road map which Prime Ministers Sharon and Abbas met in Israel earlier this week to discuss. The road map initiative is geared to one -- end terrorism; two --establish security; three -- normalize Palestinian life; and fourth -- to build Palestinian institutions so that Israelis and Palestinians can resume discussions and work toward a peace based on the idea of two states living side by side.

As President Bush said last June, the United States supports the establishment of a Palestinian state if Palestinians, in turn, embrace democracy, confront corruption and reject terror. The Road Map lays the foundation for this state. It also lays down markers for what Palestinians and Israelis must accomplish.

Abu Mazen's government is working to implement reforms and fight terror, but it continues to run into obstacles. The assistance of the entire international community, I believe, is important to strengthen Abu Mazen in his efforts to reform the Palestinian government and to fight terror.

I think that it is significant that it was after the defeat of Saddam Hussein in1991, that we had two of the most important breakthroughs in the Middle-East peace process -- the Madrid conference and the Oslo accords. Like 1991, the defeat of Saddam in 2003 has greatly improved the regional environment, making it more hopeful for Arab-Israeli peacemaking.

Saddam was the neighborhood bully. He intimidated states, fomented riots, assassinated dissidents abroad, paid families of suicide bombers. Apparently he paid employees of Al Jazeera and other Arab media. With Saddam, there was an ever-present threat to every attempt at Arab-Israeli peace.

But the indirect effects of Saddam's defeat may be even more important. It gives Jordan and Saudi Arabia much more maneuver room to support the peace process by removing a source of threat and, in Saudi Arabia's case, as I already mentioned, removing the burden imposed by 12 years of hosting U.S. forces to contain Iraq.

It reduces the existential threat to Israel and should give Israel more flexibility to take risks for peace. And most of all, U.S. credibility has been enhanced in ways that should be useful not only with Israel and the Palestinians, but with Arab countries like Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

It is important now to seize this opportunity to deal with a problem which, Senior Minister Lee correctly said last night, fuels the sense of grievance that terrorists feed on.

Equally important is getting the post-Saddam Iraq right. Just as we were committed to getting right the removal of Saddam Hussein, we are equally committed to the process of helping Iraqis establish an Iraq that is whole, free, and at peace with itself and its neighbors. The stakes are enormous, and our commitment should be proportionate. It is a complex subject. I would like to just make four summary points about it this morning.

First of all, there has been a lot of commentary about the military plan for post-Saddam Iraq, and I think much of that commentary misunderstands the nature of military planning. In judging the adequacy of our military plans to deal with the aftermath of the collapse of the regime, one cannot judge it against a standard of unachievable perfection.

To achieve the extraordinary speed of General Franks' plan, choices had to be made. The choice we made, to go for speed rather than ponderously securing everything as we went along, in fact, saved both American and Iraqi lives, and prevented damage to the environment and to the resources of the Iraqi people.

To judge the aftermath of military operations in Iraq, one should judge it as much by what did not happen as by what did. There is no food crisis in Iraq. There have been no major epidemics in Iraq. There was no refugee crisis that many predicted would destabilize the region. There was no large-scale destruction of oil wells, or the enormous cloud of hydrogen sulfide that would have been created by the destruction of the wells in the north. Other critical infrastructure, such as dams that were planned to be blown up, were not destroyed. Turkish forces did not intervene. There was no large-scale ethnic violence that many feared, particularly among Kurds, Arabs and Turcomens in the north. There was no "fortress Baghdad" or other large-scale urban warfare anywhere. The regime did not use weapons of mass destruction. And no friendly Arab governments were overthrown.

Much of those successes, I believe, are attributable to the speed -- the stunning speed -- with which the attack proceeded. But the speed of the operation certainly left some problems in its wake that we are now dealing with, but we will do so and we will do so successfully. Let us remember it is only 72 days, I think I have my numbers right, since our troops first crossed the Kuwaiti border in the south.

In dealing with the remaining problems, we have two enormous strengths: First, the finest young men and women serving in the military that any country could ask for; and, secondly, the support of the great majority of the Iraqi people. Second, in January of this year, we recruited retired General Jay Garner to stand up an Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. To my knowledge, this is the first time ever that we have created an office for post-war administration before a conflict even started.

The magnitude of Garner's efforts goes under-appreciated, in part, because a great part of his energy was focused on preparing to handle large numbers of refugees and to put out extensive oil well fires -- neither of which calamity fortunately happened. But among other successes he can point to are such things as the fact that some Iraqis, particularly in the south, now have more electric service than they did any time in the past 12 years, and we are proceeding to achieve that same kind of progress in central Iraq. Primary schools throughout the country opened on May 4. Emergency civil servants' payments have been made to more than a million Iraqi civil servants.

Third, perhaps most important, security in Iraq remains the number one priority and that is clearly where we have a lot of work to do. Security and stability are the fundamental prerequisites for everything else we need to do in Iraq. But to understand the nature of the security problem, one needs to appreciate that a regime that had tens of thousands of thugs and war criminals on its payroll did not disappear overnight. There is a vast difference between what we have come to think of as normal peacekeeping operations, in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, and the situation we face in Iraq.

In just the last 24 hours, by my count, there have been six hostile attacks on U. S. forces in Iraq. That is not counting any large number of simple criminal incidents. In Baghdad alone, the 1st Armored Division conducted a cordon and search operation detaining 60 Iraqis and seizing 45 weapons, including 10 RPG's. Elsewhere in Baghdad, a patrol of the 1st Armored Division received fire from 2 Iraqis, killing one and capturing another. In the Ministry of Health, 3 anti-personnel mines were discovered based on a tip and, fortunately, there were no casualties. And elsewhere in Baghdad, in the last 24 hours, a convoy of the 3rd Infantry Division received small arms fire and one U. S. soldier was wounded.

Ordinary criminals, you can understand, do not engage U. S. Army convoys. We are dealing with hostile elements, surviving elements of the old regime. In Baquba, a patrol of the 4th Infantry Division received RPG fire and 2 U. S. were wounded. And in Al Hasala (ph), a small town 46 miles north of Karbala, the 1st Marine Division conducted 5 raids on Ba'athist locations and confiscated assault rifles, ammunition, explosives and captured 18 Iraqis. There were 2 other incidents in the north in the area of Mosul.

In short, as the commander of coalition ground forces, Lt. Gen. David McKiernan said a few days ago: "The war has not ended. Decisive combat operations have ended, but the contacts we're having right now are in a combat zone, and it is a war."

But in spite of that, progress is being made in bringing order and stability to large parts of the country. Baghdad is not a city in anarchy. Shops are open and the city is bustling with traffic. In the south, the second largest city in the country, Basra, with a population of almost 1.3 million people, most of them Shi'a and overwhelmingly grateful to be free of Saddam's tyranny, is now relatively stable. And in Northern Iraq, the two large cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, with a combined population of 2.5 million, coalition forces have been largely successful there in creating a stable situation.

Fourth and finally, I would like to just note what I think, maybe, a very significant success story in the medium sized Iraqi city of Karbala, population of roughly half a million. The significance of Karbala, as many of you know, far exceeds its size, because it is one of the two holy cities of Shi'a Islam, and it has enormous potential for pointing the direction for Iraqi society. The success story there provides a useful counter to commonly held fears that Iraq's Shia will seek to impose a new tyranny, one based on religion, and I think provides a hopeful model for the future.

A political officer from our Embassy in Kuwait visited Karbala recently and reported, I quote, "with support from the 7th Battalion, U. S. Marines, moderate reformers are engaged in an audacious experiment aimed at building democratic rule in one of Shi'ism's two holiest cities. In cooperation with civil affairs teams, they have achieved notable successes." Karbala's infrastructure is largely functioning, although problems remain.

But the most significant developments are in the political area. That Marine presence of one battalion has supported the emergence of a functional, competent government in Karbala province that advocates a secular democratic future for Iraq.

Interestingly, the leadership of this new secular and democratic local government is a religious figure, Shayk Ali Abdal Hassan Kamuna. He has three, to me unusual, combined qualities. He is not only a Said or descendent of the Prophet Mohammed and a member of a prominent local tribal clan, but he is also a prominent member of the local secular intelligentsia. The council that he chairs includes other senior tribal figures, five other Saids and representatives of the intelligentsia and business world, including a university professor, a civil engineer, a merchant, a retired army colonel, several lawyers, a sociologist and an ophthalmologist. The religious intelligentsia is represented by a shayk who endured 12 years in Saddam's prisons for his part in the 1991 Shi'a uprising.

Indeed, I think, another promising sign for the future of Iraq is the remarkable peaceful way in which more than a million Shi'a pilgrims last month conducted the Arbeen pilgrimage to the holy cities of Najif and Karbala for the first time in 26 years, a pilgrimage that had been banned, brutally banned, by the Saddam Hussein regime. I think, though there were demonstrations that attracted some attention, to me the most remarkable thing was that so many people conducted that pilgrimage almost completely peacefully under the watchful but discrete protection of coalition forces.

To help Iraq take its place among peace-seeking nations, the international community has a responsibility to ensure that this vision becomes a reality. Last week, the Security Council lifted sanctions from the Iraqi people, defined the UN's role in Iraq, and encouraged the larger international community to participate in building a free and peaceful Iraq. As mass graves are uncovered in Iraq, it is increasingly clear to everyone, Muslims particularly, that that horrible regime in Iraq abused Muslims worse than any other government in the world.

Our victory needs to be based on the kind of country we leave behind. We are committed to an Iraq that is a model for the Middle East, a government that protects the rights of its citizens, that respects all ethnic and religious groups, and that will help bring Iraq into the international community of peace-seeking nations.

Just a word about Afghanistan, which remains an ongoing front in the war on terror. Though much progress has been made, challenges still remain. We share the vision of President Karzai that Afghanistan can develop a representative government that protects the political and economic rights of its people. But the war ended with many local power brokers in control of provincial or local governments, and few of them have risen to the challenge of serving the people rather than their own interest or those of their militias.

We are encouraged, however, by the agreement of last week that requires the provincial governments to turn over custom revenues to the central government. We are continuing to build the Afghan National Army, with the central corps scheduled for completion in June 2004. And based on success already in three provincial cities, we are fielding provincial reconstruction teams now in eight different cities around the country to facilitate moving reconstruction activity out into the countryside. The United Kingdom has committed to joining us in this important effort by leading a provincial reconstruction team in Mazar-e-Sharif. And we are talking to other coalition partners about the possibility of them leading similar teams.

Most important of all though, I believe, the international community needs to do a better job in delivering economic assistance to the Karzai government in allowing it to demonstrate success to its people.

If I might turn now to the larger East Asian environment, and let me just speak in a summary fashion, the Pacific region today is truly peaceful -- that is to say pacific -- for one of the first times in its history. We must work to sustain that achievement as the region undergoes what are likely to be major changes in the first decades of the 21st Century.

In the defense area, the issue for my country is how best to sustain the American commitment to this region in the face of the global demands on our defense resources. We are looking first and foremost to our existing allies and partners, to support our efforts both within and outside Asia. But second, we want to take maximum advantage of the remarkable capabilities that new technology affords us to make our military posture more agile, more flexible and more effective.

We are in the process of taking a fundamental look at our military posture worldwide, including in the United States. We face a very different kind of threat than the one we faced historically. But our forces also have very different kinds of capabilities, dramatically different capabilities, than we've ever had before. It is appropriate to look now at how those forces are postured, how we can get the most effectiveness out of them, while maintaining the same basic commitment to stability and deterrence in this region that we have had all along.

The main drivers for this posture review effort are three-fold. First, we have adopted, evolved and battle-tested an entirely new range of long-range, high-precision systems which exponentially increase our war fighting capabilities. Secondly, we have learned to organize ourselves, with intelligence collection systems and new approaches to information management, in completely new ways, pioneered, I might say, by the landmark legislation that the Congress passed more than 15 years ago called the Goldwater-Nichols Act. That has promoted jointness in our military and our ability to integrate forces into joint operations provides another exponential increase in military effectiveness. Third, as mentioned, to adapt to a world in which potential threats have become more unpredictable, we place a great premium on mobility and on the ability to move from existing hubs at great speed and to use temporary basing solutions as needed.

Many studies have been done and many ideas have been presented, but no decisions have yet been made. Before making decisions we need to consult both with our own Congress and with affected allies and friends in the region, and that process is underway.

In Korea, where our alliance has endured and prospered for over 50 years, we have launched a bilateral posture review effort-a phased process we call the Future of the Alliance study. That initiative was agreed to at our December 2002 Security Consultative Meeting. And we began work in earnest when the Roh Moo-hyun government took office in late February. At their recent summit meeting in Washington, our two Presidents pledged to work closely together to modernize the U.S.-Korean alliance, taking advantage of technology to transform both nations' forces and enhance their capabilities to meet emerging threats.

Our agreed goal is to jointly assess our respective transformation plans and determine how best to strengthen the deterrence value of our alliance. Tomorrow I will be going to Seoul for important discussions with South Korean officials. My basic message will be that change is positive, that we are determined to enhance the quality of our alliance with the Republic of Korea and, in so doing, to strengthen deterrence on the Korean peninsula and stability in North East Asia more generally.

Fifty years ago this July the guns went silent on the Korean peninsula. For the ensuing half century the strong alliance of the U.S. and the Republic of Korea has preserved the peace on the basis of effective deterrence backed up by a strong common defense capability. This formula has worked and allowed South Korea to prosper, both economically and politically, rising from the ashes of a devastating war to become the 11th largest economy in the world and a thriving democracy.

As we discuss in Korea how best to transform our respective forces to ensure the continuing effectiveness of our alliance, we are guided by two principal considerations. First, deterrence remains a key objective of our common defense posture. The changes we make should take advantage of new technology to counter North Korean asymmetric capabilities and to strengthen deterrence. Second, the changes we make should help to sustain a strong alliance over the long run by reducing unnecessary burdens on both sides and ensuring that the alliance will remain relevant into the future.

In Japan, a similar process is underway. While many of the basing and mobility issues that confront us in other nations do not exist in our current relationship in Japan, other issues frame the joint assessment that has recently begun there. Japan is in the process of its own national level evaluation and planning process, driven in part by new threat dynamics, and will make decisions based on its own needs as well as the perceived strength of our relationship.

Australia, long a steadfast ally and partner, has once again demonstrated its seriousness and resolve in the war on terrorism. Australia's central role in Iraq, its support to coalition efforts in Afghanistan and its commitment to fight terrorism at home proves once again how valuable it is to have an ally that takes security and its commitments to the common defense seriously.

Other established relationships in Asia are important too. As the Philippines struggles with its own terrorism threat, we have redoubled our commitment to assist that ally to develop its security programs. During the just-completed state visit to Washington by President Arroyo, the Philippines was accorded major non-NATO ally status, in recognition of the close ties which bind our two nations.

We can build on established relationships to maintain an active security posture in Asia and to encourage broader multilateral cooperation. Although multilateral mechanisms of cooperation in Asia -- like this conference itself -- are relatively new, they hold important promise for enabling countries of the region to resolve problems peacefully.

Nowhere is that challenge greater than in confronting the problem posed by North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea's behavior over the past year, in both its public declarations and actions, threatens regional and global stability. In October in Pyongyang, North Korea declared that it had violated and would continue to violate the Agreed Framework by proceeding with its uranium enrichment program. Earlier this year, they conveyed that they were reactivating their plutonium production program. And just two weeks ago, they declared the crucial 1992 North-South De-nuclearization Agreement, quote "a worthless piece of white paper," unquote.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that we are dealing with a state that has little regard for the commitments it undertakes or for the delicate nature of the northeast Asia security environment. This is not and cannot be a bilateral issue, as Pyongyang would like it, limited to a two-way dialogue between North Korea and the United States. It affects the whole region and requires a multi-lateral approach.

As Pyongyang proceeds with its uranium enrichment program and moves to reprocess plutonium, it creates a new danger -- the capacity to export fissile material and even entire weapons systems. Given North Korea's past record, there can be little basis for confidence that North Korea will restrain itself from selling nuclear materials and technology to the highest bidder.

In the face of this real and immediate danger, all responsible countries in the region, indeed in the world, must step up to the challenge. A consensus is beginning to take shape that the only way we will be able to solve this problem peacefully is through a carefully managed multilateral approach to Pyongyang.

Is there a peaceful solution to the North Korean dilemma? I believe there is. If together we accept the challenge posed by Pyongyang's aggressive and anti-social behavior -- its missile exports, its drug sales, its disregard for its international commitments -- and together confront Korea with a way forward, on verifiable terms acceptable to the countries of the region, we at least have a chance. Despite some of the differences in perspective that the Senior Minister described last night, I believe the US and its allies and partners in northeast Asia can agree on an outcome that serves all of our interests.

On its present course, North Korea is heading down a blind alley. Its pursuit of nuclear weapons will not protect it from the real threat to its security, which as the Senior Minister said, is the threat of an implosion brought on by the total failure of its system.

Indeed, the diversion of scarce resources to nuclear weapons and other military programs only exacerbates the weaknesses of the underlying system. Twenty-five years ago, under the leadership of Deng Xiao Ping, China pointed the way for how a failed communist system can undertake a process of reform without collapsing. That is the course North Korea needs to pursue if it is to avoid the kind of collapse that is viewed with apprehension throughout the region.

If North Korea abandons the provocative course on which it is embarked and ends the wasteful diversion of scarce resources to military capabilities that it does not need and cannot afford, it will find the door open to all kinds of fruitful cooperation with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Successful multilateral diplomacy will be necessary to confront North Korea with the fundamental choices that it faces.

To conclude, like most of you in this audience, I share the view that the Pacific is as important, perhaps more important, than any region in this world. And that is not just because my country is a Pacific nation. It is very likely that the most significant source of economic growth in the next 50 years will occur right here, based on the impressive growth we've already seen. One can imagine a bright future ahead if the power generated by this increasing economic growth can be increasingly applied for peaceful rather than military purposes.

Consultation and cooperation, the kind that this dialogue is promoting, through both bilateral relationships and multilateral channels, can help us see with clarity future challenges as well as opportunities so that we can face them decisively and together.

Let me conclude once again by quoting Ambassador Michael Thawley's comments at the Australian memorial at the Washington National Cathedral last October. He said, and I quote: "We know what is right. We do what is needed. We stick by our mates." That is good advice.

Thank you.

- END -

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