KAHALA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii took the world stage Thursday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out U.S. strategy in Asia and the Pacific. Secretary Clinton was on Oahu for the first leg of a seven country visit. Her message was directed at old allies and to new, sometimes tenuous, relationships being forged.
Clinton refers to the trip as 'forward deployed diplomacy' - part of the Obama administration's plan to quicken the pace and widen the scope of political partnerships. "Everywhere we go, we will advance one overarching set of goals: to sustain and strengthen America's leadership in the Asian-Pacific region," Clinton told the crowd at the Kahala hotel.
The strategy includes strengthening ties with long-time allies like South Korea and Japan. To that end, Clinton spent two hours meeting with the Japanese Foreign Minister, Seiji Maehara, in Kahala Wednesday night. The plan also calls for cultivating relationships with emerging nations like India and China.
"In the 21st century, it is not in anyone's interest for the U.S. and China to see each other as adversaries, so we are working together to chart a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship," explains Clinton.
The Secretary's speech drew dozens of business leaders, politicians, servicemembers, and others - all who have a vital interest in the Obama administration's policy.
Experts on east-west relations seemed most interested in Clinton's comments about building ties with Asean - the Association of Southeast Asian nations. It's something they hadn't heard the last time she was in Hawaii in January.
East-West Center President Charles Morrison says, "That was a more tentative statement. This was, you could tell, a lot of thought had gone into this one and things had been defined."
"If consequential security, political, and economic issues are being discussed and if they involve our interests, then we will seek a seat at the table," said Clinton.
The Secretary of State stopped in Guam before heading to Vietnam for the East Asian summit. It's the first time in history a high level, U.S. diplomat will be attending the event.