Vice President Biden: U.S. committed to Asia-Pacific policy

July 18, 2013 at 11:46 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- The Asia-Pacific rebalancing policy of the United States was prompted both by economic and security considerations, Vice President Joe Biden said.

Speaking at the Center for American Progress at George Washington University in the nation's capital, Biden said in economic terms, the Asia-Pacific region, stretching from India to the Pacific nations of the Americas, "is home to a middle class of about a billion people," with some nations boasting of fastest growth rates. He said these emerging markets will shape the character of the entire global economy.

"So we reached out," Biden said. "We reached out to deepen economic ties and promote open markets and a rule-based competition for the 21st century."

In terms of security, Biden said in the Asia-Pacific, the United States saw both a region of remarkable promise as well as genuine uncertainty and political risk. He said the rapid economic transformation many of the nations have experienced has also created a new dynamic of rising ambitions and rising tensions.

He said the U.S. policy is focused on the risks of disruptions of commerce, proliferation, human disasters, conflict between nations and the persistent threat posed by North Korea. The rebalancing thus is involved in strengthening U.S. alliances, deepening security partnerships and investing "like never before" in regional institutions to help manage disputes peacefully.

"And economically and strategically it's clear why the United States had to rebalance -- to direct more resources and attention toward the Asia-Pacific region," Biden said.

He said the Obama administration is absolutely committed to this rebalance. "The President is absolutely committed, and so am I. And so is our entire national security and economic teams."

As part of the Asia-Pacific policy, Biden said the United States completed a free-trade agreement with South Korea and deals with Panama and Colombia, launched negotiations on a new Trans-Pacific Partnership that will connect economies as diverse as Singapore and Peru, and worked toward a more constructive economic relationship with China, including through the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

"I'm traveling to India next week. Twenty, even 10 years ago, some might have suggested that India be left out of discussions about the Asia-Pacific," Biden said.

Biden reminded at the core of U.S. strategy in the region are its alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

"Our goal is to help tie Asia-Pacific nations together -- from India to the Americas -- through strong alliances, institutions and partnerships," he said.

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