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Clinton: U.S. in Asia-Pacific to stay

  |   Nov. 8, 2010 at 12:35 PM
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MELBOURNE, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The United States will remain a power in the Asia-Pacific region and expects China to be a "responsible player," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday.

"We've been here for a hundred years," Clinton said during a news conference in Melbourne where she and U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates are attending the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation summit. "The United States is both a Pacific and an Atlantic power."

She said the United States has a "very robust dialogue" with China on issues of importance for U.S.-China relations and for the U.S. position internationally.

"And the United States has consistently said that we welcome the economic success of China, the positive effects that it is having on the Chinese people," Clinton said. "As China becomes more of a player in regional and global affairs, then we expect that China will be a responsible player and will participate in the international framework of rules that govern the way nations behave and conduct themselves. "

She said the United States wasn't doing "anything differently in any significant degree" but "merely taking stock" of future needs.

Clinton said the ministerial meetings covered a broad agenda, such as the United States joining the East Asia Summit and other platforms such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and specific situations in specific countries.

The secretary of state said she was pleased to tell Australian officials that the Defense Table Cooperation Treaty was approved by the U.S. Congress, which she called "a major accomplishment."

She said the United States and Australia agreed that the exit strategy for Afghanistan "is the right strategy and that we are committed to pursuing that strategy and being very conscious of the challenges that it poses to us."

President Obama said he wants to begin transferring security duties to Afghan forces and withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011, depending on conditions in the country.

"We have said from the very beginning that the goal is to be able to transition security to the Afghans themselves, starting next year," Clinton said. "But that transition will be conditions-based and will be determined as the analysis of our commanders in the field suggests to the civilian leadership in both of our countries."

"This is a tough fight, but we are there as continuing and enduring and strong partners of the United States and our other NATO and (International Security Assistance Force) allies," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said.

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