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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Clinton to address Asia-Pacific policy during Isle stop

Advertiser Staff and Wire Reports

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada, left; Gene E. Castagnetti, center, director of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific; and Seaman Matthew Campbell with the United States Navy take a moment of silence at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

EUGENE TANNER | Associated Press

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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton begins a 10-day trip through the Asia-Pacific region with a busy schedule in Honolulu today.

Clinton, who arrived yesterday afternoon, will visit Naval Station Pearl Harbor and present a wreath aboard the USS Arizona Memorial at 11:35 a.m.

She will be escorted by Lt. Gen. Daniel J. Darnell, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

Clinton will also deliver a policy address on the U.S. vision for Asia-Pacific multilateral engagement at Jefferson Hall at the East-West Center's Imin Center at 2 p.m.

The East-West Center is a research organization founded 50 years ago by Congress to promote relations with Pacific nations. Clinton's remarks will focus on a U.S. desire to modernize pan-Asian consultative organizations to make them more relevant to Asia security and development and possibly to expand U.S. participation.The speech is not open to the public but will be streamed online at www.EastWestCenter.org.

At some point today, Clinton is also scheduled to meet with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to discuss the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps airfield at Futenma in Okinawa.

The U.S. and Japan agreed in 2006 to move Futenma to another part of Okinawa. But Okinawa residents oppose the move and want the airfield shut down.

Clinton will also consult with senior military officials at the U.S. Pacific Command, which is responsible for U.S. military relations with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

This is the first stop of a 10-day trip for Clinton that will take her to Australia, New Zealand and Papua, New Guinea.

This week's trip is meant to strengthen U.S. relations with key partner nations in the western Pacific.

The Obama administration's push to improve international cooperation to thwart terrorism in Asia and the Pacific, as well as in the the Middle East, will play a prominent role in her talks.

The trip will highlight the high priority the administration is placing on maintaining strong relations with major allies such as Japan and Australia. She also aims to improve ties to other nations seen as like-minded on issues including terrorism, climate change and energy security.

In Australia, Clinton is to be joined by Defense Secretary Robert Gates for talks with their foreign affairs and defense counterparts. Among the expected topics: countering the terrorist threat, not only at the flashpoint along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border but across a widening arc that now includes Yemen and Somalia.

One reason for Clinton's New Zealand visit is to express thanks for its contributions to the war effort in Afghanistan. New Zealand's cadre of elite special forces is considered among the best in the world.

Clinton's first overseas trip as secretary of state, last February, was to Asia, a choice she said then was a reflection of the Obama administration's commitment to maintaining strong relations with China, South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. She returned to the region last July and again in November.