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Newly appointed Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific Daniel Russel says the Obama administration sees that part of the world as “immensely important” to its and allies’ interests.
“And I can say with great confidence that there is no let up, no backtracking, no diminution of that commitment,” he said at a press briefing. “First and foremost, the East Asia and Pacific region is immensely important to the interests of the United States.”
Washington’s “enduring” treaty alliances with Australia, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan and the Republic of Korea “form the foundation of peace and stability,” while China has dominated the administration’s engagement with emerging powers in the region, Russel said.
The US official also had advice for North Korea following months of heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Seoul.
He said that Washington will follow a “rules-based, principled approach” toward North Korea:
“North Korea has to show its seriousness of purpose and its willingness to negotiate a denuclearization agreement as it has committed to,” Russel said at a Foreign Press Center briefing.
Russel’s comments came as US Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in India on a four-day trip to discuss trade, energy, climate change and security concerns.
“This trip will be an important opportunity to strengthen our partnerships within the region and reaffirm our commitment to re-balancing US foreign policy towards the Asia-Pacific,” the White House said.