Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell testified today before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In his statement, Assistant Secretary Campbell said:
"America's future is intimately tied to that of the Asia-Pacific, and our economic and strategic interests in the region are among the most important in the world. The region is home to almost one-third of the Earth's population and accounts for almost one-third of global GDP. Strong coordination between the U.S. and key Asian economies was instrumental for the global economic recovery. Currently, more than 60 percent of our exports go to the Asia-Pacific. American and Asian companies are among the most dynamic in the world, and our economies are growing increasingly interdependent. The region is also home to critical strategic chokepoints for global commerce, emerging power centers that will have profound implications for U.S. and international interests, and a foundation for American power projection in the greater Asia-Pacific."
Assistant Secretary Campbell underscored the importance of the U.S. alliances with Japan and South Korea, which have "evolved from strategic bulwarks against Soviet expansionism to truly global partnerships." The U.S. alliance with Japan is a cornerstone of our strategic engagement in Asia, and South Korea continues to be an increasingly active partner in global affairs. U.S. bilateral and multilateral cooperation with South Korea transcends the Asia-Pacific region.
Assistant Secretary Campbell said, "South Korea's successful and positive role as a regional power is in stark contrast with North Korea. North Korea poses the most immediate risks to both South Korea and the stability of East Asia. North Korea's unprovoked attack on the Republic of Korea naval ship Cheonan on March 26, 2010, claimed the lives of 46 South Korean sailors. This attack gave the international community yet another reminder of the unpredictable and enduring threat posed by North Korea.
"The United States has responded to a number of provocative actions by the DPRK -- diplomatically, militarily, and economically. Let there be no doubt about U.S. conviction here. In the case of the Cheonan sinking, the United States worked closely with member states in the UN to craft a strong response. As a result, on July 9, the UN Security Council issued a Presidential Statement condemning the attack on the Cheonan and demonstrating the Council's unity in confronting threats to international peace and security. The United States and the ROK have also coordinated closely on a series of combined military exercises to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression."
He continued, "The Republic of Korea is a key partner and contributor to regional and global peace and stability. The Obama Administration is unwavering in its resolve to uphold its treaty commitments to defend its allies. We highly value our broad relationships with the ROK and Japan and are deepening our security relationships with both countries as well as with our other partners in the region to ensure peace and stability on the peninsula. The U.S. position on the DPRK has remained constant: we will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons power. The United States has underscored numerous times that North Korea can only achieve the security and international respect it seeks by ceasing its provocative behavior, improving its relations with its neighbors, complying with international law, and taking irreversible steps toward fulfilling its denuclearization commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement."
Read Assistant Secretary Campbell's full statement here.