Clinton made the comments to Asian leaders meeting in the Cook Islands as she began a tour of the region, Voice of America reported.
Calling the Asia Pacific region "a key driver of global economics and politics," the secretary said Friday that "now we look to the Pacific nations in a spirit of partnership for your leadership on some of the most urgent and complex issues of our time, such as climate change."
Clinton announced the United States plans to spend $32 million in the Pacific region in a range of programs to address issues such as conservation, sustainable development and gender equality.
She is scheduled to stop in Indonesia, China, Brunei, East Timor, and Russia to promote Washington's "Asia Pivot" plan designed to boost America's economic and security presence.
"This is a vast and dynamic region -- a key driver of global economics and politics -- and the United States has a historical presence in this region," Clinton said. "That's why I have said that the 21st century will be 'America's Pacific century' -- with an emphasis on 'Pacific.' The 'Pacific' half of 'Asia-Pacific' doesn't always get as much attention as it should, but the United States knows that this region is strategically and economically vital, and becoming more so."
The U.S. spends about $330 million each year in aid to nations of the Pacific Islands.