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WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 11, 2008)—Today’s stable and prosperous Asia can – and should – take a stronger global leadership role in confronting major international challenges such as global warming, terrorism and the spread of dangerous weapons, a top State Department official told a gathering of distinguished Asia-focused Americans here Friday.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who has decades of experience in Asia, said there are now “great expectations” that Asian nations will “expand their global role as responsible stewards of the very international order that made possible their success.”

He spoke at the fifth annual Washington conference of the East-West Center-sponsored U.S. Asia Pacific Council.

“As we strive to solve major issues confronting the international community – from climate change to preventing the spread of dangerous weapons – the United States looks increasingly to our partners in Asia not only to help, but to lead,” Negroponte told the conference.

 

(Note: the full text of Negroponte’s speech can be found at http://www.state.gov/s/d/2008/103464.htm )

The United States will continue to play a major role in dealing with international challenges, Negroponte insisted. But Asian nations, from China to Indonesia, are now in a position to carry a larger share of the burden.

 

“With global influence and power comes responsibility. Now is the time, as beneficiaries of the global trading system, for Asian powers to take the lead in trade liberalization under the World Trade Organization's Doha Round,” he said. “The world needs and expects today's global winners to be tomorrow's pacesetters, not to lag behind the pack.”

 

“Addressing climate change in the coming decade will also require inclusion of the developing world – most notably China as well as India,” he added.

 

Since World War II, Negroponte said, the United States has actively worked to improve the security and economic stability of the region. This has come through a number of security alliances with major Asian powers, as well as laying the “building blocks” of  the global economic and trade system “that Asian economies from Singapore to Taiwan have used to fuel their growth,” he said.

 

But the days of unilateral action or even bilateral arrangements with individual countries are coming to an end, he suggested.

 

“While institutions established after World War II have served the U.S., Asia and the international community in many respects, we must work to ensure that growing Asian nations are integrated into this framework,” he said.

 

That also means fuller participation and leadership by Asian countries in major international institutions, he said.

 

For example, he said, China should be a member of the International Energy Agency, and Japan deserves a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

 

And what will be the role of the United States as Asian nations step up more fully to a leadership role? Negroponte cited three major tasks for the United States over the coming decade:

 

-- Further improving regional cooperation to complement existing bilateral security alliances;

 

-- Promoting continued prosperity, and

 

--Accommodating rising Asian powers into the international system while also challenging them to assume global leadership on major international issues.

 

“For more than 60 years, the United States has worked with friends and allies in Asia to promote free markets and the free exchanges of ideas,” Negroponte said.

 

“Unlike the beginning of the Cold War, when strongman rule was a feature of the region, the ballot box has gradually transformed the face of Asia. America now has democratic partners across the region, committed to political liberty, human rights, and rule of law,” he said.

 

In short, he said, Asia’s newly prosperous, stable and democratic nations are in a position to become leaders rather than followers on the global stage.

 

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