Secretary Clinton delivers encouraging speech at East West Center - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Secretary Clinton delivers encouraging speech at East West Center

Ichiro Fujisaki Ichiro Fujisaki

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email 

Honolulu - (HawaiiNewsNow) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is here in Hawaii, but she's not kicking back she's kicking off a 10 day trip aimed at strengthening and mending relations with countries in the Asia Pacific region.

"Now I've been informed by the Governor, Congressman, Mayor and others is that the most difficult decision will be figuring out the aloha shirt that will be given to all of the leaders," joked Secretary Clinton, as she talked about next year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting which will be held in Hawaii and attract leaders from more than 20 countries.

It was one of the lighter moments before she launched into a serious policy speech Tuesday afternoon in Manoa.

Her 30 minute speech set the course for years to come. Secretary Clinton's address at the East-West Center today signals Washington's renewed focus on the Pacific because she says the future of the region depends on the United States.

The East-West Center is a place that brings students from around the world together, so it's not a coincidence that it's also the back drop for Secretary Clinton's speech aimed at bringing Asia Pacific countries closer with the United States.

"It is a region that has gone from soy beans to satellites, from rural outposts to gleaming mega cities, from traditional calligraphy to instant messaging, and most importantly from old hatreds to new partnerships," said Sec. Clinton during the speech.

The region isn't just important politically but economically as well. American companies export $320 billion a year in goods and services to the countries in the region. And 13 million Americans trace their ancestry to this part of the world.

"If you visit virtually any American family anywhere in the country you're likely to find children coming back from karate lessons to watch Ang Lee movies before sitting down to eat Indian curry or Szechuan cooking while their parents may enjoy a glass of Australian or New Zealand wine," said Sec. Clinton.

It's her fourth trip to the region in 11 months. A sign the countries there are a top priority.

"I made it very clear upon becoming Secretary of State that the United States would show up. I don't know if half of life is showing up, but I know half of diplomacy is showing up," said Sec. Clinton.

Protestors also showed up. About two dozen people held anti-war signs and chanted to attract attention. They weren't allowed in to hear the speech. Only 150 invited guests were, including representatives from various countries.

Japan's ambassador liked the speech even though it did not make any mention of the current controversy over the fate of the U.S. military base in Okinawa that citizens there want moved out of the country.

Japan's new leadership took office in September. The previous administration made the agreement with the United States in 2006 to move the Futenma Airfield to another section of Okinawa. Japan's current prime minister is going over that deal and it could be a key issue in keeping the alliance between the two countries.

Tuesday the Ambassador of Japan said he did not expect the topic to be part of the speech, nor does he think the topic has strained relations.

"I don't think so. Of course we're in a transition. Both sides need to learn and think about what each other is doing but the basis is very sound and strong," said Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador of Japan.

And according to Secretary Clinton it's only going to get stronger.

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