November 17th, 2006 10:14 EST
Interview With Maura Fogarty of CNBC Asia
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you for joining us today.
SECRETARY RICE: It's a pleasure to be with you.
QUESTION: When President Bush arrived in Asia on this particular trip, he talked about how the U.S. is remaining engaged in Asia and is committed. However, there is a sense though among Asian leaders that the U.S. is not engaged enough. What do you say to that?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think the United States is very engaged in Asia. First of all, the President is coming here to Southeast Asia. I was just in Southeast Asia, in Kuala Lumpur last summer for the ASEAN meetings. Not too long ago I was in Northeast Asia, in China and Japan and South Korea to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue. We have a very deep engagement here and, in fact, I think we consider the APEC, with this wonderful expanse of countries, 20 countries that go from South America all the way up through Northeast Asia, to be one of the most dynamic regions in the world and one in which the United States has enormous interests.
QUESTION: One of the most pressing issues right now facing Asia is the issue of nuclear proliferation in North Korea. President Bush will be meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun at the bilateral meeting later on this weekend. How confident is the United States in bringing South Korea closer to the United States position of taking a very strong stance against Pyongyang?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm certainly confident that South Korea is living up to its obligations under Resolution 1718, a very tough Chapter 7 resolution that requires member-states to make certain that North Korea can't make certain transfers and can't receive financing for certain kinds of activities.
I know too that South Korea has been a stalwart member of the six-party talks that is trying to get North Korea to take another path and to take a path that would lead to international cooperation rather than to confrontation.
So South Korea has been a good partner. It has its own context given the North-South dimension, given that it is a divided country, and we understand that. But I'm quite certain of their commitment to a denuclearized, non-nuclear Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: If the North Koreans do not agree to terms laid out at the six-party talks, is the United States willing to live with a nuclear North Korea?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, not only is the United States not willing to live with a nuclear North Korea, but the rest of the six parties, the other five parties, aren't either. I think you've heard China talk about its commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. It would be in violation of the agreement between North and South of 1992.
And so that is why you have the kind of sanctions that you have against North Korea, the first time by the way in decades that the North Korean regime has actually been sanctioned for its nuclear program. So no one is prepared to recognize North Korea as a nuclear power. Everybody is going to work both diplomatically and through sanctions to reverse the North Korean program.
QUESTION: One of the partners you've been working with quite hard on this is China, of course. But it seems now there's some concern amongst the Chinese that the United States sees China as a competitive threat both economically and militarily. Does the U.S. see China as a threat in those ways?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, we certainly see China as a country that's in major transition and it's been a good partner in many ways. It's an important economic power. Of course there are concerns about a rising China, concerns about China's transition, concerns about whether the Chinese economy will in fact act in a way that is consistent with the level playing field that the international economy needs, whether it is in terms of currency valuation, intellectual property rights protection. Those are the kinds of concerns we have. And of course there are concerns about Chinese military buildups; it's sometimes seemed outsized for China's regional role.
But I would say that we have an outstandingly good relationship between the two presidents. We have a very good relationship with the country and these are problems that can be worked through. China is a country that's in transition, and of course its record on human rights, its record on issues of religious freedoms, continue to be issues that we discuss. But by and large, it's a good relationship and it is very much in the interest of the world that China's energies, China's growth, be channeled in a way that is stabilizing for the international system.
QUESTION: Is the U.S. foreign policy towards China in any way aimed at containing China's ability to exercise its power either militarily or so in a way that poses a risk to the United States?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, U.S. policy is aimed at having China be a responsible stakeholder in international politics. That means that Chinese energy, Chinese growth, Chinese incredible innovation and entrepreneurship, would be channeled into an international economy in which everybody can compete and compete equally. I think most people would say that China's rise, China's economic growth, has been a net benefit for the international system. And where we have difficulties or where we have differences, we have found ways to either resolve those differences or to keep them in a context in which we are able to have a potential for a resolution.
QUESTION: One of the things that many leaders here in Asia are looking forward to is seeing President Bush when he arrives, as well as hearing reassurance from him that he'll be able to conduct the kind of foreign policy he wants to. Given the recent change in power in Congress in the United States, has that in any way undermined his ability to conduct foreign policy, not just in Asia but also in Iraq as well?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would hope that people would realize the United States of course is a great democracy and it goes through these changes in government actually fairly frequently. Ronald Reagan lost the Senate in his sixth year. It's not at all unusual for presidents to lose seats in Congress in their sixth year. But they are then still President of the United States and I think in many ways the fact that you now will have not an opposition in Congress but a leadership in Congress that has a certain responsibility for the well-being of the United States and for the exercise of American power in the world, that there will be many areas where cooperation may now be more possible.
But this President has a very clear agenda, one that speaks to the aspirations of people around the world for liberty and for a better life through democracy, one that speaks to the need to fight the war on terrorism and to fight it aggressively so that America and the free world can be safe, one that speaks to the need for open markets and free trade, one that is very actively been seeking free trade agreements around the world and that is very interested in a successful Doha round, which would be a real boost for the international economic system.
And again, coming here especially to APEC, which is one of the most dynamic institutions because of the dynamism of the countries that are included in APEC, one that I think over the next two years will press forward with a very active agenda that serves American interests but also serves the interests of a more open and democratic world.
QUESTION: All right, Madame Secretary. Thank you for joining us.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.