NEW US TONE, SAME OLD ISSUES
Asia Times, February 27, 2009
MONTEREY, California - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Asia last week as America's top diplomat, the first time in 50 years that a US secretary of state chose Asia, instead of Europe or the Middle East, as their first trip abroad.
Asia is rising, and so is its place on the US foreign policy agenda. Clinton's visit came at a critical juncture as the Barack Obama administration charts a new course for America's foreign policy even as it addresses the domestic economic challenges.
Clinton's visit to a large measure reflected the Obama administration's priorities and its new approach to international relations. America will continue to strengthen its ties with allies but will be more willing to listen. It will engage the Muslim world and restore its image to win more friends and hence receive greater support for its anti-terrorism efforts.
And the George W Bush administration's pragmatic management of China's rise will continue - engaging Beijing where it can on a broad range of issues where the two countries share common interests - and be candid where Washington has particular concerns.
The US-Japan alliance remains the "cornerstone of security in East Asia" and Clinton, in choosing Japan as her first stop on the Asia tour, reassured Tokyo that Washington continues to value and emphasize the bilateral relationship in a changing Asia. An indication of this gesture was the invitation to Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso to visit the United States.
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