About the Author: Jane Carpenter-Rock is the Australia Desk Officer at the Department of State.
In her first day of meetings on the margins of the 2009 UN General Assembly, Secretary Clinton met with Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada for the fourth Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) Ministerial meeting. The TSD is a unique multilateral forum where the governments of Australia, Japan, and the United States come together at different levels to discuss issues of mutual interest in the Asia-Pacific region. With one-third of the world's population and one-quarter of the world’s GDP centered in Asia-Pacific countries, Secretary Clinton understands the future of the United States is inextricable tied to success in the region.
The TSD is a relatively new international mechanism, but an extremely important one for Japan, Australia, and the Unites States to accomplish substantive work on many of the most pressing security issues of our time, including nuclear non-proliferation and threats to democracy. The three nations share a wide swath of ocean and a strategic corridor from Hawaii to East Asia, within which are located major energy consuming and producing countries critical to long-term climate change and energy security strategies. During their wide-ranging discussions, the ministers proposed ways in which trilateral cooperation could be advanced to meet future challenges, and recommitted to the trilateral initiatives already underway, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Although it was the fourth meeting of the TSD Ministerial, it was the first time Secretary Clinton and Foreign Minister Smith were able to meet together with Japan’s new foreign minister, Katsuya Okada. With a newly elected government in Japan, and Foreign Minister Okada in his position only a matter of days, it was an exciting opportunity to discover new areas of shared interest and re-commit to enduring ideals.
By the end of the productive session, it was clear the three ministers shared an easy rapport and common perspectives as they reaffirmed the value of holding regular TSD meetings to enhance coordination and cooperation for the future of the Asia-Pacific region. It was clear that this historic moment of leadership change would only serve to broaden and deepen their valuable relationship.