I am very pleased to have this opportunity to exchange views with my colleague, Foreign Minister Alatas, in his capacity as ASEAN’s dialogue partner with the United States. I have been gratified by the depth and quality of the discussions we have held both yesterday at the ASEAN Regional Forum and today at the Post-Ministerial Conference.
The United States is determined to deepen its cooperation with our partners in this region and beyond. This commitment is solid because it is solidly based on American interests.
We have an abiding security interest in a region where almost any significant outbreak of international violence would threaten our well-being and that of our friends.
We have an abiding economic interest in a region that is experiencing explosive growth.
We have an abiding strategic interest in a region whose cooperation we need in responding to threats of proliferation, terrorism, narcotics, and damage to the environment.
And we have an abiding political interest in supporting democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because stability and prosperity ultimately depend on it.
I want to take a few moments to speak with you about the many interests we share, beginning with our common commitment to expand trade, sustain growth and create jobs for our people.
As we discussed this morning, this requires sustaining APEC’s momentum towards free and open trade in the Pacific community, doing our part to strengthen protection of intellectual property, and winning the fight against corruption.
It requires concrete actions to preserve the health of our shared global environment, including meaningful steps by developed and developing nations alike to curb the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Above all, it requires that we complete the unfinished business of the Uruguay Round. The nations of ASEAN have already made a profound contribution to liberalizing trade in telecommunications and information technology. This year, ASEM countries can play the same dynamic role in WTO negotiation to liberalize financial services. To have world-class economies, a world-class, well regulated competitive financial sector is vital.
We are also committed to working with ASEAN to ensure stability, security and peace throughout the Asia-Pacific.
This requires joint support for initiatives to halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
It requires cooperative law enforcement efforts against the scourge of terror, the threat of crime and the plague of drugs.
It requires coordinated diplomacy to encourage the resolution by peaceful means of territorial and other disputes.
And it requires the development of complementary strategies for responding to problems that threaten to spill across frontiers, undermine the rule of law and endanger regional stability.
For example, we count on ASEAN’s help in efforts to build a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, including support for the Agreed Framework and KEDO. Nothing is more vital to the cause of enduring security in this region.
We also support and applaud ASEAN’s leading role in the effort to resolve the crisis in Cambodia. ASEAN is right to recognize the de-stabilizing implications of having the democratic process in Cambodia disrupted by force and of having elected leaders harassed, killed and driven into exile.
In the last two days, we have had productive consultations with ASEAN, and we are agreed on a the need to ensure that free and fair elections are held in Cambodia in May of 1998. We support the right of Cambodia’s parties to operate freely and we insists, that FUNCINPEC leaders be able to return home safely. We call on Hun Sen to respect press freedom and to depoliticize the Cambodian military. We should also be prepared to monitor the elections to ensure they are free from intimidation.
I would like to ask you for your views on an idea that we have been circulating over the past day or so — to organize a group called the Friends of Cambodia, similar to the Group of Ten that was established to monitor the implementation of the Paris Accords. The purpose of the Friends of Cambodia would be to support the ASEAN initiative and to work to achieve free and fair elections in 1998.
Throughout this process, we will insist on respect for the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, for the Cambodian constitution, and for the democratic process that has given the Cambodian people five years of relative peace after decades of horror and fear.
Similarly, we look forward to a strong effort by ASEAN to encourage respect for law, democracy and human rights in Burma. Here, too, democratic elections were forcefully overturned. Here, too, a lack of legitimate government has led to a breakdown of order based on law that threatens regional stability.
The decision to admit Burma was ASEAN’s to make and we respect it, But the question remains whether conditions within Burma will permit its true integration in this region, as a nation that pays dividends to those who invest in its future,
Let me be very clear: We do not ask ASEAN to pass judgment on a new member; we ask simply that you accept the judgment of the Burmese people, that the status quo in their country is dangerous and wrong. We do not ask ASEAN to impose a solution on Burma from the outside; but rather to accept that a lasting solution cannot be imposed by force from the inside, either,
Nor is this a question of interfering in Burma’s internal affairs. Burma’s future and ASEAN’s future are now joined; whatever approach ASEAN may take is bound to influence the political struggle in that nation. That is why we ask ASEAN to use its influence constructively, to encourage a dialogue of reconciliation. We are ready to work with ASEAN to achieve this goal and to discuss the range of solutions that may be possible.
I note that just a few days ago, we marked the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Aung San, the father of Burmese independence. And I note as well that not long before he died, Aung San invited representatives from throughout this region to Rangoon to discuss the formation of an association of southeast Asian states, similar to what ASEAN has become.
I suspect that if Aung San were alive today, he would be delighted to see the nations of this region working together to preserve their independence, enhance their prosperity and enlarge the sway of freedom. I suspect he would want his nation and others to take the steps that would allow them to participate meaningfully in this region’s remarkable achievements.
Today, ASEAN is looking outward to a world that welcomes and increasingly needs positive and dynamic leadership from this region. The primary goal of our engagement with ASEAN is to encourage this development. For we view ASEAN as an important contributor not only to regional security and prosperity, but to the global effort to bring nations closer together around basic principles of political freedom, open markets, law and shared commitment to peace.
That is why we hope ASEAN will also meet the challenge of looking inward, by managing this region’s integration in a way that preserves its cohesion and reinforces its values.
I believe that the growth of arrangements that link poorer nations to their more prosperous neighbors is one of the most hopeful developments of our time. But our goal, in this region and in every other, is not simply to come together. It is to come together to raise standards, so that children everywhere will grow up in a world that is safer, more prosperous and more free than any prior generation has known.
To that end, I pledge to you the best efforts of my country, in partnership with your own.