Remarks by Secretary of State Clinton With Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba

Tokyo, Japan–(ENEWSPF)–July 8, 2012.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to commence the press conference with Minister Gemba and Secretary Clinton. First of all Minister Gemba will speak, and then Secretary Clinton will follow.

Minister, the floor is yours.

FOREIGN MINISTER GEMBA: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. I would like to make my initial statement. Today, in the time available during the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan, I was able to exchange views thoroughly with Secretary Clinton on matters not only about Tokyo Conference itself, but also the follow-up of our Prime Minister’s recent visit to the U.S., ASEAN-related foreign ministerial meetings due next week, the Asia Pacific situation including North Korea, and the challenges such as Iran.

First on Afghanistan, substantive discussion is being developed in this Tokyo Conference, which makes me feel that combined with the outcome of the NATO Chicago Summit meeting which has been led of the United States – led by the United States, a way could be paved for the independent and sustainable nation building of Afghanistan during the transformation decade in both security and development aspects.

I have shared this perception with Secretary Clinton and confirmed that we will continue to partner and collaborate closely so as to ensure the follow-up on the outcome of the Tokyo Conference, such as the concepts of our mutual commitment and regular review process going forward. So we will continue to have close collaboration between the two countries.

Next, on Japan-U.S. relations, we confirmed that with a view to deepening that U.S. alliance, U.S.-Japan alliance, befitting the 21st century, we will solidly follow up the outcome of our Prime Minister’s recent visit to the U.S..

On U.S. Forces realignment, Secretary Clinton and I, based upon the joint statement from the recent 2+2 meeting, confirmed to accelerate our works so that certain outcome can be achieved by the end of this year on questions such as: one, relocation of Marines in Okinawa and Guam; two, return of the land south of Kadena; and three, improvement of the training facilities in Guam and Northern Mariana in order to concretize Japan-U.S. dynamic defense cooperation. We also reconfirmed to work continuously on Futenma Air Station relocation to Henoko.

On the question of Osprey, I have sought the continued cooperation from the U.S. side regarding the further provision of information on the accidents. Prompt and sufficient information provision is something that I have requested for U.S. cooperation, so that not only the people of Okinawa but the Japanese citizens at large can feel reassured on the safety question, to which Secretary Clinton gave us her understanding.

On Iran, I explained our position once again that we support the EU3+3 approach towards the peaceful, diplomatic solutions of the issue, and we promote collaboration of international community based on the approach of dialogue and pressure. Japan wishes to continue our efforts to closely coordinate with the U.S. and the international community.

Asia Pacific: We exchanged our views on the Asia Pacific situation. In particular on DPRK, once again we confirmed to maintain close coordination between Japan and U.S. and among Japan, U.S., and South Korea.

So that is all for my initial remarks.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, Minister. Secretary Clinton, the floor is yours.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Minister Gemba, and I am delighted that we had a chance to have a broad, comprehensive discussion. I want to begin by congratulating the Government of Japan for the excellent preparation and execution of the Tokyo Conference. As the Minister said, here we have agreed that we need a different kind of long-term economic partnership, one built on Afghan progress in meeting its goals, in fighting corruption, in carrying out reform, and providing good governance.

After intensive effort with the international community, Japan has announced that $16 billion has been pledged to support Afghanistan’s development over the next four years – more than enough to meet the World Bank’s estimated requirements. And we thank Japan for its generous pledge.

For our part, the United States will be working with Congress to provide assistance at or near the levels of the past decade through 2017, both to help secure Afghanistan’s gains and to protect the already considerable investment that the United States has made not only in financial terms but in the sacrifice of our men and women in the last decade.

We must ensure that the transition is irreversible and that Afghanistan can never again be a safe haven for international terrorism. Just as we met in Chicago three months ago to safeguard Afghanistan’s security future, today we have charted a way forward on Afghanistan’s economic requirements. So I believe that we have really made a good commitment to putting Afghanistan on a path to economic self-sufficiency. As Afghan capacity and revenues increase, our contributions can decline.

We emphasized key factors about the role of the Afghan Government and people in stepping up to meet the challenges that they have ahead of them; the role of the international community to support its commitments and to do so within the Tokyo Framework of Mutual Accountability; the role of the neighbors to work together to build a prosperous, interconnected zone of commerce and trade across South and Central Asia; and the role of the private sector in helping bring investment, training, and jobs.

This morning I also had the opportunity to meet with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khar to discuss our many shared interests, including the fight against extremism and terrorism; a successful resolution to the Afghan conflict; promotion of civil society and democratic institutions; and greater economic and trade opportunities.

Later today Foreign Minister Khar and I will join Afghan Foreign Minister Rassoul when we convene the first minister-level Core Group meeting among the three countries. We will reaffirm the Core Group’s goal of enhanced cooperation in support of an Afghan peace and reconciliation process, and jointly we will reiterate our call for the armed opposition to abandon violence and enter into a dialogue with the Afghan Government.

The Foreign Minister and I also discussed a range of bilateral and regional concerns. We are looking forward to both attending the ASEAN Regional Forum in Cambodia, where we will have an opportunity for a trilateral meeting with the Republic of Korea. Among the items to be discussed there will be pressing Pyongyang to meet its international obligations. I reaffirmed the United States commitment to Japan’s defense and security. We’re moving forward on the vision that we laid out in April on the future of our alliance. We’re addressing new challenges on the high seas, in space, and cyberspace.

And I want to say a word about the issue that the Minister raised with me concerning the Osprey aircraft. Meeting our security requirements requires the right equipment, including military aircraft. And I understand and appreciate the concern raised here in Japan, and in particular on Okinawa, about the Osprey. The United States cares deeply about the safety of the Japanese people, just as we care deeply about the safety of the men and women in the U.S. military. And we will work closely with our Japanese partners to ensure that any American military equipment brought into Japan will meet the highest safety standards. And I assured the Minister that when the investigation is complete, the results will be shared with Japan.

We also discussed the opportunity to strengthen our economic relationship, and the United States welcomes Japan’s interest in the Trans Pacific Partnership, which we think will connect economies throughout the region, making trade and investment easier, spurring exports, creating jobs. The TPP is just one element of our increased focus on the Asia Pacific, but it is important that we recognize that the Japanese-American relationship is really at the cornerstone of everything we are doing in the Asia Pacific. We are not only treaty allies; we are friends and partners with common interests and shared values.

When I leave Japan, I will be traveling to Mongolia, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, where I will deliver a common message: The United States is a partner in the Pacific working not only to promote security, but also to create greater economic opportunity, support democratic reform, spark innovation, and strengthen the ties between and among our people.

Finally, to turn briefly to another part of the world, yesterday the people of Libya went to the polls to choose their representatives for the Libya National Congress, and we congratulate them on this historic milestone. After more than four decades of authoritarian rule, men and women from every corner of Libya are beginning to determine their own future. And it will be the will of the people, not the whim of a dictator.

But of course, now the hard work really begins to build an effective, transparent government that unifies the country and delivers for the Libyan people. And the United States stands ready to assist Libyans in their transition to a free, democratic Libya at peace with your neighbors and where every Libyan has a chance to fulfill his or her God-given potential.

So again, thank you, Minister. And I appreciate greatly our very strong consultation and partnership.

MODERATOR: Questions. If you are designated, please identify yourself by stating your name and affiliation. Proceed to your questions. First, the Japanese media.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you. Nishida from Mainichi newspaper company. I have questions to both of you. During the meeting you have exchanged views regarding regional situation. Tough security situation continues in Asia, so I have a question about that. As you mentioned, in a couple of days ARF ES/EAS-related meetings will be held in Cambodia. Major theme will be South China Sea related issues. During your conference, what kind of discussion did you have? Also between ASEAN and China, legally binding Code of Conduct is something which is being debated. So between Japan and the U.S., the collaboration is taken in certain approaches. May I have comments from both of you?

MODERATOR: First of all, Minister Gemba.

FOREIGN MINISTER GEMBA: Thank you very much, Mr. Nishida. Your question was regarding the situation pertaining to South China Sea. United Nations has a Convention on the Law of the Sea as well as other related international laws. We must be abided by the international laws and then we should be making rules. I think it’s very important to do the rulemaking in accordance to international laws. It’s a basic thinking.

On top of that, through dialogue, in a peaceful way we must resolve the problems. That is the basic thinking I have. Based upon that thinking, I discussed it with Secretary Clinton. Among others, as you indicated, COC, Code of Conduct, was included in our discussion. Thank you.

MODERATOR: Secretary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s important to reiterate what the Minister said. We believe that we have a national interest, as every nation does, in the freedom of navigation, in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, and unimpeded, lawful commerce in the South China Sea. And therefore we believe the nations of the Asia Pacific region should work collaboratively and diplomatically to resolve their disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats, and without conflict.

We want to see all parties with claims – whether they are land or maritime claims – pursue them in accordance with international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention. And we urge progress between the ASEAN nations and China on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea. And certainly when we go to Cambodia for the ASEAN Regional Forum, both the Minister and I will be urging that progress be made on such a Code of Conduct.

MODERATOR: U.S. media.

QUESTION: Yes, Brad Klapper from Associated Press. In an interview he gave today, UN mediator Kofi Annan conceded that his Syria peace plan was failing. Yet just a couple days ago, you were still trying to pressure Assad into implementing the ceasefire and the plan for political transition. Do you have any hope left, any at all, that Assad might do these things? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bradley, I think what Kofi Annan said should be a wakeup call to everyone, because he acknowledged that there has not been movement by the Syrian regime in accordance with his six-point plan or the more specific communiqué out of Geneva’s Action Group meeting.

And therefore the parties, principally the government, have to ask themselves: What is the alternative? The violence is increasing. June was the deadliest month for the Syrian people in terms of the thousands of Syrians killed and injured. There are 1.5 million displaced people within Syria. There are tens of thousands of refugees crossing the border. There’s already been an incident affecting Turkey because of military action by the Syrian Government. There was just yesterday an unfortunate incident across the Lebanese border. There is no doubt that the opposition is getting more effective in their defense of themselves and in going on the offense against the Syrian military and the Syrian Government’s militias.

So the future, to me, should be abundantly clear to those who support the Assad regime: The days are numbered; and the sooner there can be an end to the violence and a beginning of a political transition process, not only will fewer people die, but there’s a chance to save the Syrian state from a catastrophic assault that would be very dangerous not only to Syria but to the region.

So I think Special Envoy Annan was admitting the obvious, that as of today he’s not been able to convince the Syrian Government and those supporting it to wake up and recognize the path they are on, but that there is still time. And as we saw with the recent high-level defection, with the increasing numbers of defections, the sand is running out of the hourglass. And we want to make clear to the Syrian regime that they need to be willing to end the violence and start the serious business of a political transition.

MODERATOR: Japanese media, please.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Kikwaji from Nippon Television Network. Now, Osprey is something that I want to ask you. Minister Gemba and Secretary Clinton, my question is to both of you. Accidents happened, one after another, so mainly in Okinawa but elsewhere too there is a call for the revision of the plan. So other than information provision, Minister Gemba, did you ask for any concrete measures? As of now, do you think that deployment of Osprey is possible?

MODERATOR: Secretary Clinton, this question. This may affect the Japanese relationship with the U.S.. How do you see the implication and the impact, and is there any plan for information provision? Minister Gemba first.

FOREIGN MINISTER GEMBA: Thank you very much for your question, Mr. Kikwaji. A question regarding Osprey. As I said earlier on, in Iwakuni and in Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan, a lot of people are showing very harsh reaction regarding the deployment of Osprey. I was very frank about it and I conveyed this point to Secretary Clinton.

Having done so, we have coordinated and collaborated until the very last of possibilities. It is a fact that we have done the closest coordination that we can do, and still the reaction is very harsh. That is what I told Secretary Clinton about. And later on, Secretary made – referred to it. She said that situation that should give reassurance to the Japanese people, the information would be provided which will reassure Japanese people. Especially the local people have serious concern. In order to remove any possible concerns, what is needed? We have to consider what is possible that we can do in order to remove any worries. That is something that we wish to seriously study. It is – situation is serious, so I was very frank about this with Secretary Clinton.

Thank you.

MODERATOR: Secretary Clinton.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me reiterate that the United States cares deeply about the safety of the Japanese people and we will take every measure to ensure that any equipment brought to Japan for Japan’s defense by the U.S. military meets the highest safety standards. Overall, the MV-22 Osprey has an excellent safety record, and we believe that basing it in Okinawa will significantly strengthen our ability in providing for Japan’s defense, performing humanitarian assistance, disaster relief operations, and other duties as a key ally.

But in recognition of the concerns that the Minister has just described, the defense ministries of both of our countries have agreed that they will wait until the results of the safety investigation are presented to the Japanese Government and confirmed, because it is very important to the United States that Japan shares our confidence in the safety of the Osprey. So we will work to ensure that the Japanese Government is satisfied that the Osprey is safe to fly in Japan.

MODERATOR: In the interest of time, last question from the U.S. media.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. Jo Biddle from AFP. Following your meeting with Foreign Minister Khar, how confident are you that the United States and Pakistan have put aside the difficulties that we’ve seen in the relationships – in the relationship over the past year? And more specifically, could you tell us how you believe that the reopening of the Pakistan border posts will help in counterterrorism efforts? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. As I said, we had a very broad-ranging, constructive discussion as a follow-up to our recent work in resolving some of the disputes around the opening of the lines of communication in Pakistan. We are both encouraged that we’ve been able to put the recent difficulties behind us so we can focus on the many challenges still ahead of us. And we want to use the positive momentum generated by our recent agreement to take tangible, visible steps on our many shared core interests.

First and foremost, we focused on the necessity of defeating the terror networks that threaten the stability of both Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as interests of the United States, along with our allies and partners. And we discussed Afghan reconciliation efforts and the importance that both the United States and Pakistan support this Afghan-led process. So I am pleased we will have a chance to discuss that trilaterally later this afternoon and look toward how we can better coordinate our efforts. We also discussed economic support for Pakistan and the goal of moving toward more trade than aid as part of our economic relationship.

So we discussed a number of important issues, and obviously there’s a lot of follow-up work that has to be done. I’ve said many times that this is a challenging but essential relationship. It remains so. And I have no reason to believe it will not continue to raise hard questions for us both, but it is something that I think is in the interest of the United States as well as the interest of Pakistan.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen of the press. This completes the joint press conference of Minister Gemba and Secretary Clinton. Thank you very much.