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FILE ID:97082702.EEA
(U.S. sees ASEAN as central player in Asia-Pacific)  (8300)
Washington -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright came away from the
recent ASEAN meetings in Kuala Lumpur with the sense that the ASEAN
dialogue forums are a significant process to which the U.S. will
remain committed, according to Sandra Kristoff, senior director for
Asian affairs, National Security Council.
Addressing audiences in Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur
during a USIA Worldnet satellite broadcast August 20, Kristoff said:
"We all left Kuala Lumpur with the impression that ASEAN as a group
clearly is a central player in defining and shaping political and
economic development in this most dynamic region. The ASEAN Regional
Forum has become an important security dialogue process that deals now
with region-wide issues."
Kristoff said she was particularly struck by the amount of information
on the part of foreign ministers on Korean Peninsula questions and
issues, a Northeast Asia concern.
The ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference has a great value in that it
brings together the foreign ministers of all the countries that have
an interest in the Asia-Pacific, including Europe, Kristoff said.
"That post-ministerial conference provides an excellent opportunity
for foreign ministers to talk about not only current issues of the day
but how they want to address emerging problems. And I think it was the
context of the post-ministerial conference that we saw a lot of
discussion about Cambodia and the crisis that we are facing there,"
she said.
"We certainly look forward to joining our ASEAN colleagues next year
in this same process," Kristoff said.
Following is the transcript of the broadcast:
(begin transcript)
Television and Film Service of Washington, D.C.
GUEST:  Sandra Kristoff, Assistant to the President and 
                Senior Director for Asian Affairs, National 
                Security Council
TOPIC:    U.S.-ASEAN Relations, Post-Foreign Ministers Meeting
POSTS:  Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur
HOST:     Jim Harriott
DATE:     August 20, 1997
TIME:     21:00 - 22:00 EDT
MR. HARRIOTT: Hello, and welcome to Worldnet's "Dialogue," I'm Jim
Harriott. Our topic for today's program, U.S.-ASEAN relations,
post-foreign ministers meeting. We'll look at the recent meeting of
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations that took place in Kuala
Lumpur last month, to discuss the latest developments in the region
with the overseas guests. And we are pleased to have in our studios
Ms. Sandra Kristoff. She is the special assistant to President
Clinton, and of course senior director for Asian Affairs at the
National Security Council. She recently returned from the region, and
we are very pleased to have her joining us for the program. Welcome
back to Worldnet.
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, thank you very much, Jim. I'm looking forward to
this evening's exchange with many old friends in ASEAN capitals. If I
could start off --
MR. HARRIOTT:  Please.
MS. KRISTOFF: I had the privilege of traveling with Secretary Albright
to Kuala Lumpur for the meetings of the ASEAN Regional Forum and the
meetings at the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference. And I think we all
left Kuala Lumpur with the impression that ASEAN as a group clearly is
a central player in defining and shaping political and economic
development in this most dynamic region. The ASEAN Regional Forum has
become an important security dialogue process that deals now with
region-wide issues. I was particularly struck by the amount of
information on the part of foreign ministers on Korean Peninsula
questions and concerns. Previously in the past in the ASEAN Regional
Forum there has been a focus on issues -- for example, the South China
Seas. I think it was striking at this time there was such a great
interest in a Northeast Asia concern, the Korean Peninsula.
Certainly the post-ministerial conference has a great value in that it
brings together the foreign ministers of all the major players in the
Asia-Pacific -- all the countries indeed that have an interest in the
Asia-Pacific, including our friends in Europe. That post-ministerial
conference provides an excellent opportunity for foreign ministers to
talk about not only current issues of the day but how they want to
address emerging problems. And I think it was the context of the
post-ministerial conference that we saw a lot of discussion about
Cambodia and the crisis that we are facing there.
Finally, I think the secretary and her party came away with the sense
that the ASEAN dialogue forums are a significant process that the U.S.
will remain committed to. And certainly it is a process that ASEAN has
constructed and can take great pride in during this 30th anniversary
year. We certainly look forward to joining our ASEAN colleagues next
year in this same process. Thank you.
MR. HARRIOTT: Well, thank you for those comments, setting a tone for
our get-together here. Let's move now to our international guests to
begin our discussion. They are standing by. Please go ahead in Manila
with your question.
Q: Good morning, Ms. Kristoff. I am -- (inaudible) -- president of the
(Yurchenko ?) Center for East Asia at -- (inaudible) -- University,
Philippines. My question is: What are the global foreign policy goals
of the United States now that it is the world's only superpower? And,
corollary to this question, are those goals supported by some kind of
public consensus in the United States?
MS. KRISTOFF: I think at the opening of the administration, both the
president and his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, my boss, in
a series of speeches tried to outline the four or five goals or
objectives of this, the second, Clinton term. I think first and
foremost was the construction of an undivided peaceful Europe, and we
have had great success in that with NATO enlargement over the last
several weeks, most recently in the meetings in Madrid. Second is the
construction of a security and economic architecture in the
Asia-Pacific that will help sustain the stability and prosperity that
the region enjoyed for the last 50 years. Third I think is to enhance,
strengthen, deepen the international rules and norms in areas like
non-proliferation, international trade. And I think fourth -- and this
goes to your question of is there a consensus -- I think the
administration is truly committed to seeking from Congress the kind of
funding and resources that a superpower like the United States needs
in order to be able to carry out an effective foreign policy.
Certainly that is the issue that Secretary Albright has spoken to most
eloquently in a number of her speeches around the United States,
trying to enthuse the American public about foreign policy issues, and
to gently remind them why it is important that the United States have
an active foreign policy in this period of transition from a post-Cold
War environment to a world the shape of which we can't really foresee
with great certainty, where we have to roll up our sleeves and work
together to shape the world that we want.
Is there a consensus? I think largely in the American body politic,
yes, there is a consensus in support of a strong American foreign
policy. There are differences between the administration and the
Congress on any number of individual issues, but I think foreign
policy for the last 50 years has really benefitted from widespread and
deep bipartisan support. I think we have been, as some have said, able
to speak effectively with one voice as we leave the shores of the
United States. And so we can debate individual parts of American
foreign policy inside the United States, and that comes out
particularly I think in political campaigns; but once it's beyond the
shores of the United States I think that you find that this country
speaks clearly with a single voice.
Q: Thank you very much, Ms. Kristoff. I remember in your last Worldnet
interview you said that the U.S. wants to lead not through the example
of power but through the power of example, and I was wondering if
that's an original quote from you, because I thought that was a very
impressive description that encapsules what the United States is
trying to do.
But my second question has to do with Japan. Recently new guidelines
in U.S.-Japan security cooperation have been set. And as the United
States is prodding Japan to expand its security role in the region, is
the United States unwittingly encouraging Japan to fully rearm and
eventually become a military power once more?
MS. KRISTOFF: The defense guidelines that we have with Japan have
become outdated with the passing of the presumed Soviet threat. So it
was quite natural, I think, for these two allies, the United States
and Japan, who together probably have done more to create the 50 years
of peace and stability that the Asia-Pacific has enjoyed -- it was
quite natural for these two great allies to reexamine the bilateral
relationship and ensure that it was ready to meet the challenges of
the next century. That in fact is what President Clinton and Prime
Minister Hashimoto called for last year in April at their summit in
Tokyo. Since then we have been in the process of revising the defense
guidelines. We have done this in a very open and transparent manner,
and indeed issued an interim report in June, following some meetings
in Honolulu.
I think what we should stress here is that the defense guidelines
contain no change in the basic principles and construct of the
U.S.-Japan mutual defense security treaty. They contain no changes in
the role of Japan in the context of engaging in any kind of combatant
activity. They require no changes in Japan's Constitution; all of this
is being done in the scope of Japan's current peace constitution. I
think from a U.S. perspective the defense guidelines represent a
modernization, an updating of the way in which Japan will help support
the United States operations in the region. But they make no
fundamental changes -- no basic changes to the heart of the treaty
alliance, no changes to Japan's Constitution, no changes to the way in
which Japan would operate in the region.
MR. HARRIOTT: All right, thank you, Manila. I understand that Bangkok
is correct. Is that correct? Let's go now to Bangkok with your
questions for Sandra Kristoff.
Q: Good evening, Washington. My name is -- (inaudible) -- the Nation
newspaper. My question is concerned with the economic crisis Thailand
is facing now. Actually it was a topic of discussion at the ASEAN
meeting as well. A few days ago the U.S. Treasury secretary made a
call to the World Trade Organization for the conclusion of the
financial sector. Do you think -- (inaudible) -- if this call at the
time that Thailand and other ASEAN countries are facing economic
crises? Thank you.
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, thank you very much. And let me make two points I
think in reply to your question. First, on the situation that Thailand
is facing, I think the United States -- and Secretary Rubin spoke to
this several times over the course of the last several weeks -- the
United States is very pleased that the Thai government and the IMF
have been able to reach agreement on a stabilization package. We had
participated as the largest shareholder in the IMF. We naturally
expected that organization, along with other multilateral
organizations like ADB and the World Bank, to step up and provide the
loans and assistance that was needed to bring financial stability back
to Thailand. So we are very pleased that that process is underway and
is continuing. And hopefully Thailand will be able to move out of its
financial crisis quite shortly.
At the same time that the multilateral institutions have been facing
the economic situation in Thailand, we are also coming up against the
need to move forward the financial service liberalization negotiations
under the context of the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Secretary
Rubin's call for liberalization of financial services I think is a
recognition that all of us, the United States and others, need to step
up and make significant offers for financial liberalization, financial
services liberalization, and that this would in fact benefit many
developing countries, many emerging markets. I don't believe that it
is inconsistent on the one hand to call for financial services
liberalization and at the same time too to be confronted with the kind
of economic crisis that we have in Thailand.
Indeed, I would argue that it was not liberalization. The undercurrent
of your question is that financial services liberalization has somehow
caused Thailand's currency crisis. Quite the contrary: it was not the
previous liberalization undertaken by Thailand, but rather the
imbalances in macroeconomic policy and some fundamental weaknesses in
Thailand's supervision of financial institutions that contributed to
the crisis. Indeed, if we are able to have a WTO liberalization
package that is significant, many of the tools that will help
countries like Thailand will be part and parcel of that agreement, and
I would hope that the liberalization would in fact make it easier for
many emerging countries to exercise prudential supervision over
financial institutions like banks.
Q: Okay, good evening, Washington. My name is -- (inaudible) --
Bangkok. First, I have a question. So, according to -- Mr. Robert (sp)
has said earlier that the U.S. would support Thai financial problems
through IMF. I jsut would like to know what kind of support -- could
it be financial support, just like the U.S. gave to Moscow two years
ago? And if it is so, can you tell me exactly (affirmation ?)? Or if
it is not, can you be more specific and tell me exactly what kind of
support you would give us? Thank you.
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, let me make a couple of points in response. First,
it was the U.S. leadership as long ago as Halifax under the G-7 that
led to a reform in international economic institutions like the IMF
and the World Bank that has enabled those institutions, the IMF in
particular, to be in a position to respond as quickly to Thailand's
economic crisis as they have. In the absence of those kinds of
economic reforms that came out of the G-7 Halifax summit, the IMF
would not have been as able to respond quite so quickly to Thailand's
concerns. We learned that from Mexico, the need to respond quickly and
Secondly, the United States is the largest I believe shareholder in
the IMF. So I think that you would expect the U.S. to anticipate and
to rely on the multilateral institutions to be the central players in
restoring economic stability to Thailand. We have pushed within the
IMF very hard for Thailand to have excess access to IMF resources. We
are working hard with the World Bank and ADB to provide fast
dispersing the loans to Thailand. So I think our activities in the
United States, led by the U.S. Treasury and Secretary Rubin, are a
demonstation of the fact that we have an interest in maintaining the
financial stability and sustained economic growth in Thailand. We have
that interest not only in Thailand, but in all the rest of Southeast
Asia as well.
MR. HARRIOTT: We thank you Bangkok. Let's move on now to our friends
in Jakarta. Go ahead please with your questions in Jakarta.
Q: Good evening, Washington. Well, the next major event -- oh, yes,
sorry, my name is -- (inaudible) -- Center for -- (inaudible) --
International Studies at the Department of Financial Affairs in
Jakarta. Well, the next major event on the ASEAN agenda is a summit in
December in Kuala Lumpur that includes ASEAN's leaders and then also
Chinese, Japanese and South Korean leaders. Is this the first time the
leaders of Southeast Asia and East Asia come together with other --
(inaudible) -- Western counterparts? Michael -- (inaudible) -- of the
International Tribune interpret these as a -- (inaudible) -- of power
in favor of ASEAN. And the Economist of London commented that now the
ARF meeting is becoming much more a forum to engage the Americans
rather than to engage China. Your comment please?
MS. KRISTOFF: I think the ASEAN meetings in December are part of this
year-long celebration of the 30th anniversary of ASEAN. And I think
much that ASEAN has accomplished in the last 30 years in terms of the
consensus-building process, the way in which ASEAN handled the
Cambodia peace accords several years ago, the way in which ASEAN has
stepped forward and supported APEC, has worked on an ASEAN free-trade
area, has created the ASEAN Regional Forum, has allowed the ASEAN
post-ministerial conference to grow and to expand to include players
such as Europe and Russia -- all of these are marks of success for
ASEAN. And so I think it's a year that ASEAN can take great pride in.
The U.S. I think understands ASEAN's desire to meet with leaders from
Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing. These are three great powers, or three
significant powers in the region, whose activities have an effect on
the politics and the economics of ASEAN. So I think it's most
appropriate that those meetings occur. I think that one of the
elements, or one of the factors that ASEAN and the United States
together have to face is the emergence of China as a political and
economic power in the region and in the world, and indeed the U.S. and
ASEAN have been working to coopeate, to coordinate, to try to bring
China into an international rules-based system in such important areas
as trade and non-proliferation. So I -- and I would hope that that
cooperation would continue. It's certainly an area that I know -- the
concern about China and its emergence and how we manage its
integration into the region is an issue that I know weighs heavily on
President Suharto's mind, as well as President Clinton. They have had
correspondence and conversation about thsi, and I am confident that
the U.S. and Indonesia share basic goals on that issue of China's
Q: Good evening, Ambassador Kristoff, my name is -- (inaudible) --
daily here. My question relates to the recent ARF PMC meetings in
Kuala Lumpur. One of the things that I observed recently during the
meeting was the almost open finger-pointing at various sessions during
the ARF PMC, whether they be in the plenary sessions, and particularly
I think during the final press -- joint press conference. As far as I
can recollect, this is a very far departure from the two or three
previous meetings at least in -- (inaudible) -- or in Jakarta last
year. As a journalist it was very interesting to watch, but as an
ASEAN observer it was rather worrying also. What struck me was the
fact that most of the issues were the same as they were two or three
years ago, which was concerning Myanmar, the role in the drug trade,
and human rights issues. So I was wondering why this sudden burst of
ASEAN bravado during the recent meetings. I can only come up with two
conclusions. One is that the members, the participants of the PMC I
think are more comfortable and that they can engage in this kind of
dialogue; or the second one might be the style of the actor -- herself
in this case with Secretary Albright, whom you have to admit has a
very different style than that of former Secretary Christopher. Could
I have your comments please?
MS. KRISTOFF: I too watched with interest the changing dynamic of the
dialogue in the ASEAN Regional Forum among the various foreign
ministers. I think your first rationale for why the discussions were
perhaps more lively this year than in the past is indeed the fact that
these foreign ministers now know one another, have interacted with one
another -- including with Secretary Albright, who knows most of the
foreign ministers in the region from her tenure at the United Nations.
She certainly for example knows Ali Alatas for many years. I think
they are comfortable with one another.
And I for one have never believed that the famed and notorious ASEAN
consensus has ever meant that there were not individual opinions held
by ASEAN nations, and that in fact there are very spirited discussions
among ASEAN countries themselves, where there are differences between
positions that Singapore has positions perhaps that Indonesia has. So
I know that there has been spiritd debate among the ASEAN members
Now with the comfort that ASEAN has in itself over 30 years of dealing
nwo with one another, with the comfort that other foreign ministers
have, both on a personal level and with the issues, I think we saw a
very lively and a very useful debate at both the PMC and the ARF.
I would hesitate to call it "finger-pointing." I think rather it was
an effort to clearly articulate where differences in our positions
exist. I don't think that friends and allies should paper over
differences. I don't believe the secretary of state believes that
friends and allies should paper over differences; rather, we should
understand clearly the points on which we differ, and then begin to
work to bridge the gaps in our positions. So I think it was a clearer
articulation of U.S. posture and indeed ASEAN posture on perhaps some
time-worn issues, rather than finger-pointing.
MR. HARRIOTT: We thank you, Jakarta. With regard to Secretary
Albright, it was not so much a question of taking her measure because
she's a known quantity because of her U.N. work -- much less time to
be comfortable.
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, that's right, that's right. She is a known
quantity I think to many of the people in the region because of the
U.N. She has had a good deal of press over the last six months. So I
think people understood that she was a very plain-spoken individual,
that she was not going to pull any punches; she was going to, using
her own words, she was going to "tell it like it is." And I think that
indeed she did. It perhaps caught some by surprise, but frankly she
did not articulate positions that would have surprised ASEANs, or any
of our other friends in the region, because they represent
long-standing U.S. foreign policy positions.
MR. HARRIOTT: All right, let's move now to Kuala Lumpur, an area where
you were not long ago. Questions for Sandra Kristoff, please?
Q: Good evening, Washington. This is -- (inaudible) --university. My
question is: At the recent conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,
former prime minister of Australia, Bob Hawke, said that no right was
more fundamental than the right of every citizen to share in the --
MR. HARRIOTT: I am sorry, Kuala Lumpur. We got as far as former Prime
Minister Hawke, and it's everyone's right. But please turn your
speaker down, because we are getting reverberation. So everything you
are saying is being heard about three or four times immediately
following your saying it. Please try yoru question again in Kuala
Q:  (Technical difficulties.)
MR. HARRIOTT: All right, we'll return to Kuala Lumpur in just a
moment. Let's move on to Manila once again with questions for our
guests, Sandra Kristoff.
Q: This is -- (inaudible) -- again. Given the fluid conditions in
Southeast Asia and the South China Sea, the U.S. finds some benefits
in new and creative security arrangements with the Philippines. And my
question is: Would progress towards these new arrangements be affected
by domestic political developments in the Philippines, such as
possible curtailment of human rights and tampering with the
Constitution, perpetuating (the incumbent ?) government? I ask this
question conscious of the fact that the United States values human
rights, the rule of law and the sanctity of constitutions, and has
taken an advocacy role in defense of such principles internationally.
MS. KRISTOFF: Let me answer your question on two levels, first a
strategic level, if you will. The United States values very much the
five core bilateral security alliances that we have in the region. The
U.S.-Philippines alliance is one of those five, and we have come to
rely on it and hope that we can sustain it over a period of time.
The U.S. is willing, however, to build on top of those five core
alliances a regional architecture for security discussions. And that
has emerged as the ASEAN Regional Forum which, as we noted a little
bit earlier, has demonstarted that it has the capacity to address
regional concerns in for example the Spratlys, the South China Sea, or
as foreign ministers indicated in Kuala Lumpur, in such areas as the
Korean Peninsula. So I think there is a real prospect for a regional
security architecture, and we have to find a way to have these two
activities at two levels -- the bilateral and the regional level --
work hand in hand so that they complement and support one another, and
don't act in conflict.
Now, in terms of U.S.-Philippines bilateral relations -- be they
political, economic, military, security, defense -- certainly the
Philippines and the United States share a tradition and a commitment
to democracy and to human rights. And I have heard President Ramos
speak eloquently on each of these points in meeting with President
Clinton during two trips to Manila, or during -- surrounding the APEC
economic leaders meetings. So there is a commitment that the
Philippines has demonstrated over time to democracy, and indeed to
free-market principles, and hence therefore to improvements in human
rights and individual liberties that necessarily and naturally go
along with political evolution and economic development.
Were the Philippines to take a step backwards away from the values
that the Philippine people have embraced -- in terms of economic
development, advancement of democracy, improvements in living
standards and human rights -- that would be a tragedy for the
Philippine people, and it could not but help the effect the way in
which the world -- not just the U.S., but the way in which the world
would view the Philippines. I believe that we, the United States, this
administration, have a great deal of confidence in the Philippines.
Over the course of the last five to ten yeas, the Philippines has
turned around its entire economy, and has begun to participate in the
dynamic growth of the region. President Ramos has empowered the people
of the Philippines. The entire People Power movement was something
that I think the Philippine people can be justly proud of. And there
has been an improvement in the lives of -- the everyday lives of the
Philippine people. And I think the administration here, and I am
confident that your friends in Asia would hope and would encourage the
Philippines to continue down that path.
Q: I am -- (inaudible) -- of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights
Advocates here in the Philippines. The U.S. has taken a strong stand
regarding the human rights of the military junta in Burma, Myanmar,
the State of Law and Order Council. What position is the U.S. ban on
Hun Sen's coup d'etat and its consequences on human rights? And my
second question is: How integral are human rights to U.S. foreign
policy, particularly to the members of ASEAN?
MS. KRISTOFF: I actually heard perhaps three questions, the first on
Burma and the fact that we have spoken out loudly and clearly in
support of a dialogue of political reconciliation between Aung San Suu
Kyi and the SLORC. We continue to call out for that dialogue as only
through a national dialogue of reconciliation can the Burmese people
begin to express their political views, begin to participate in the
growth -- the economic growth that is ASEAN, as well as the stability,
the regional stability, that ASEAN has brought to its
On the question of Cambodia and Hun Sen, I think the best that we
could do is repeat what we have said recently. One, we support
wholeheartedly ASEAN's effort led by the three foreign ministers from
Indonesia, Taiwanh and the Philippines, to mediate a return to peace
in Cambodia. Only with an end of violence I think do we see the
prospect of returning to the intent of the Paris Peace Accords.
Two, we all have to work hard to ensure that there are free and fair
elections in Cambodia next May -- elections that are free from fear
and intimidations, elections that are open to all who want to
participate, including those who have left the land and who would like
to return home -- and fair in that the Cambodian people get to express
again without intimidation their views as to how their country should
be ruled. So I think the ASEAN effort to create the conditions for
free and fair elections next May is something that we should all
dedicate ourselves to.
In terms of the role that human rights plays in American foreign
policy, certainly it does have a central place in this country's
articulation of our foreign policy objectives. The advancement of
political institutions, the economic advancements, hand in hand
require more openness in society -- openness in terms of information
exchanges, openness in a way that goods are traded, openness in the
way in which people are allowed to express their opinions about what
is happening in their society. And so I think you will continue to
find the U.S. hopefully eloquently and persuasively arguing the case
for the centrality of improvement of human rights, and for the
universality of human rights throughout the world. I don't think that
the universality of human rights is much disputed in Asia. And
although I will confess that it was not my phrase, I borrowed it from
Sandy Berger -- it's always good to quote your boss -- the U.S. does
intend to lead not only by the example of our power -- the world's
only superpower -- but also by the power of our example, which is a
strong democratic open society that respects fundamental human rights.
MR. HARRIOTT: Thank you very much. With regard to the Cambodian
elections proposed for next May, would international observers serve a
useful purpose?
MS. KRISTOFF: Yes, I think so, Jim. And there has been much discussion
in the region of the need to ensure that there are monitors in
Cambodia in May to oversight the ballot boxes, if you will. I think it
would be the hope of this administration that many non-government
organizations would begin now helping Cambodia construct the election
law and put in place the procedures that are necessary for free and
fair elections. Free and fair elections don't happen overnight. You
know, you can't just announce the day before people are to go to the
ballot box everything is free and fair. You need to lay the groundwork
for that over a period of several months. And Cambodia has its work
cut out for it.
MR. HARRIOTT: All right, let's try Kuala Lumpur once again and see if
we can receive that question that was referring to Australia's former
Prime Minister Bob Hawke, as I recall. Kuala Lumpur, go ahead please.
Q: Yes, he said that no right was more fundamental than the right of
every citizen to share in the growing real wealth of their country.
And without this right talk of justice was nothing more than empty
rhetoric. He includes the feelings in ASEAN. What is the United
States' view on this and on the need to review the U.N. Universal
Declaration of Human Rights?
MS. KRISTOFF: I believe that much of the discussion about a split
between the U.S. and ASEAN, or between the West and Asia, over human
rights or universal rights really poses false questions, or false
choices. Let us be clear that the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights has served as the cornerstone of the last 50 years of
articulation of international norms about basic rights that human
beings everywhere are entitled to.
>From that Universal Declaration are derived two international
covenants, the covenant on economic, social and cultural rights and
the covenant on individual civil and political rights. Both of those
covenants fall out of the umbrella known as the Universal Declaration.
Both of those covenants contain tenets that -- or principles that we
all agree to.
Now, at some points in a country's development there may well be
reasons for a greater emphasis on economic rights than perhaps
individual rights. That says nothing, however -- that difference in
emphasis says nothing, however, about the continuing validity of the
basic principles that we have all agreed to, but first in the
Universal Declaration, which acts as the umbrella, and then in these
two covenants that derive from it. So I don't believe that the alleged
dispute between the West and Asia over values -- or between the United
States and Asia, the questions of cultural imperialism, are really
much more than spurious questions. I don't think that they go to the
reality of Asia, which is that political stability is a state that is
prized, that is coupled with economic development, that the purpose of
stability is not just to be stable in and of itself, but to allow
economic growth so that -- not that the state can simply take more
money and put it in its coffers, but so that the people of a country
can enjoy a better livelihood. And with that livelihood comes better
access to information, better access to goods, better access to the
political system and a better ability to articulate political views.
So for me these are -- I think all of these go together, and no one
that I know of has really called into question the fundamental
validity of the universal principles or the principles articulated in
the Universal Declaration.
I think Prime Minister Mahatir's comment several weeks ago in Kuala
Lumpur truly reflects his flair for the dramatic, rather than any
suggestion from the Malaysian government that Malaysia would advocate
an undermining of basic principles that hav ebeen accepted all around
the world.
Q: Good evening, Ambassador Kristoff. This is Steven Leung (sp) from
the Institute of Strategic and International Studies. May I touch on
the important issue of environment? Since the U.S. and Western
advanced countries as a whole regard let's say the Southeast Asian
rain forests are clearly a global (common ?), and as you know in the
past few months we have had some major fires in the region in the
country of our good neighbor Indonesia. But the ASEAN countries as a
whole do not have the wherewithal to deal with major fires. And if the
U.S. is concerned that it is indeed a global common, can you tell us
how perhaps the U.S. could come to the assistance on this very
important transnational issue? Thank you?
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, unfortunately, Dr. Leung (sp), I am not going to
be able to respond with specific suggestions, or suggestions about
specific steps the U.S. could take in response to particular
environmental degradation as a result of recent fires. What I can say
is that the environment issue, the question of sustaining the
environment into the 21st century, is something that no one country
can address on its own. We need the participation of all of the
members of the region to be able to come up with adequate solutions.
The U.S. can't afford it alone any more than Indonesia or ASEAN can
afford it alone. Certainly this is the case with China when we look at
greenhouse gas emissions. This is a problem that China faces that is
going to affect all of us, but that none of us individually can solve.
We have to work in concert. So I think you look to international
organizations, international or regional organizations and programs
where we can pull funding and where we can leverage funding to
introduce environmental technologies that will help lessen, or at
least put in -- help lessen I guess -- cap off economic or
environmental degradation. APEC for example has an environmental
program that I think is worth the region's investment in terms of
addressing some of these questions that know no borders. These are
borderless questions. And so what happens in a rain forest in
Indonesia is eventually felt here in the United States. What happens
in China is eventually felt in Canada. For those of us in the region
we all have an interest in working together to solve these.
MR. HARRIOTT: We thank you, Kuala Lumpur, and we are delighted we were
able to establish contact with you. Let's move again to Bangkok for
more questions. Go ahead please in Bangkok.
Q: Good evening again, Ms. Kristoff. I am -- (inaudible). I wish to
stick to the economic question. As you may know that the IMF loan
package to Thailand, it could be said that is an ASEAN -- an Asian-led
package, as it not include Australia. Japan first came to rescue,
followed by China for the first time give assistance to this kind of
thing. And you have other Asian giant economies like Hong Kong to
rescue Thailand -- from what critics here tend to think as the
conspiracy theory by Western speculators. Because if the Thailand
economy is falling, other ASEANs will follow suit, and then the
repercussion will quickly reach China and Japan. And what is your
reading on this assumption? And do you believe in the
conspiracytheory? And also why didn't the U.S. come to the rescue,
although we understand that the U.S. worked behind the scenes on the
IMF loan package. Thank you.
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, let me make three points in response to that
question. First, certainly Japan, which has the largest amount of
investment in Thailand, was to be expected -- it was to be expected
that Japan woudl participate in the economic stabilization package,
and I think all of us owe a note of appreciation to Japan for stepping
up so quickly. The United States has supported other Asian nations'
bilateral contributions, if you will, to economic stabilization in
Thailand, and that includes China's participation. I believe this is
the first time that China has participated in a program, a
stabilization program of this nature. And I think we should take that
as a good signal that China intends to be a part of the region and
participaregionte constructively. So I don't see conspiracy on the
part of Asian neighbors of Thailand, but rather I see a helping hand.
Second, in terms of the U.S. participation, as I said earlier we are
the largest shareholder in the IMF. I think it was to be expected that
the U.S. wanted the IMF and other multilateral institutions to take
the lead in putting together the stabilization program. That has
happened, and the United States will continue to work with the IMF,
the ADB and the World Bank to ensure that we see this situation
through to a return to favorable conditions. We certainly do not
expect to contribute bilaterally as we did in the case with Mexico.
Finally, in the third point, I would not anticipate a spread of
Thailand's situation to other parts of the region. I do not believe --
no one -- no economist worth his salt believes that Thailand's current
difficulties were a result of the actions of speculators who were
trying to take care of -- take advantage of Thailand's previous
liberalizations in its financial market. As I said earlier, it was not
the liberalization but rather the imbalances in macroeconomic policy
and some fundamental weaknesses in supervision of financial
institutions, a lack of in-depth credit analysis and overextension
into property credit -- overextension of credit into the property
sector -- that contributed to the current situation that faces
Thailand -- certainly not the act of individual speculators, if you
Q: Okay, this is -- (inaudible) -- again. Well, my second question is
still concerned about the Thai financial problem. My question is: What
do you think about the Thai government -- (inaudible) -- and are you
sure that asking here from IMF is the right direction for Thailand?
See, it seems to me that it's the people who take all the burden, not
the government. And do you think that if IMF should have any other
ways to solve the Thai economic crisis instead of pressuring the
people so hard? Thank you.
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, I think my third answer to your second question is
going to be essentially the same. It is a good step forward that the
Thai government has agreed to this stabilization program with the IMF.
It is the role of multilateral institutions to put together these
packages and to help restore economic stability. In this regard I
think the IMF has played its role properly and appropriately.
MR. HARRIOTT: I am told that there are many questions remaining, and
we are going to try to get as many in as we can. Short questions -- I
guess that also obviates short answers as well. Jakarta, let's return
to you.
Q: This is -- (inaudible) -- from Jakarta. Ambassador Kristoff, in --
(inaudible) -- ministers welcomed the entry into force of the
Southeast Asian nuclear weapon-free zone. However, there is a sign
that nuclear weapons states, including the United States, will in the
future accede to the -- (inaudible) -- of the treaty. One thing that
has been -- (inaudible) -- about the right of innocent passage, which
-- (inaudible) -- article 2 of the treaty. What do you have in mind?
MS. KRISTOFF: Without getting into the details that have transpired
over at least the last five years that I can remember on the
negotiations of this nuclear-free treaty and the entire zone,
nuclear-free zone, let me say that I think ASEAN should be pleased
that this has gone into effect. The United States and other nuclear
powers -- we have made our positions clear. They are not fundamental
differences in goals and objectives. Our concerns can be addressed,
and I am reasonably confident that they will be addressed successfully
in the not-too-distant future.
Is that short enough, Jim?
MR. HARRIOTT:  Short enough.  Well done.
Q: Ambassador Kristoff, this is -- (inaudible) -- again from the
Jakarta Post. I'd like to come back to the issue of Cambodia. I think
one of the basic issues facing that country is the question of
legitimacy now. And that's also the issue facing ASEAN in terms of
Cambodia. You already pointed out several tenets underlining the
question of elections next year. While Cambodia's membership into
ASEAN is ASEAN's preorogative, what points do you believe the
association should watch for before admitting Cambodia? And, to follow
up that, do you believe that it is wise to admit Cambodia before it
has elections? Thank you.
MS. KRISTOFF: Restore peace to Cambodia to encourage de-arming of the
military, encourage a cessation of violence, allow return of those
from Ranarridh's party who fled Cambodia in fear of their lives, to
help set up the process and procedures for a transparent election law,
for free and fair and open elections next May. I think all of those
items are milestones that we can look at to see if Cambodia is in fact
prepared to implement the spirit of the Paris Peace Accords.
It is most appropriate I think that ASEAN take the lead in this issue.
ASEAN's role in putting together the original Paris Peace Accords was
central, and I think it's most appropriate that powers such as the
United States and Japan actively support ASEAN's lead.
The question of when Cambodia should be admitted to ASEAN belongs to
ASEAN, not to the United States or any other power. I think that we as
an administration would simply observe that as you bring a country
like Cambodia that is experiencing a convulsion of violence and
repression, that as you bring that country into your house it reflects
on ASEAN's image. It reflects on the face that ASEAN presents the
world. It also affects ASEAN's ability to instigate or push or
convince Phnom Penh to make needed changes. So I think the
administration would urge caution and serious thought before Cambodia
is admitted to tChinadecision ASEAN forum.
I hasten to add though that this is an ASEAN decision and it is not a
U.S. decision. We certainly will respect whatever decision you make
within your consensus-building process. Much of ASEAN's desire I
believe to grow from the original core six members to the ASEAN ten
reflects a recognition of simply put strength in numbers, number one;
two, that ASEAN as a group becomes more effective in shaping the
politics of the region, the economics of the region; and, three, that
ASEAN as a group can more effectively deal with the greatest challenge
that we all face, which is the emergence of China and its integration
into regional rules.
Q: A final question from Jakarta is again about human rights, and I am
very impressed with your comment that human rights in -- (inaudible)
-- U.S. foreign policy. This is going to be instructive, and it a way
can be a source of considerable friction between the U.S. and ASEAN
countries. And are you prepared for example to -- -- (inaudible) --
between tolerance and human rights abuses and maybe -- (inaudible) --
that you might get from the Asia economic liberalizations?
MS. KRISTOFF: Well, again I don't think that -- I think that's a false
choice that you offer me. I do not believe it is mutually exclusive
for the United States to want to participate and be a part of the
economic growth in the region, and at the same time to stand up for
the values that are reflective of the American experience, and indeed
for values that are universally recognized.
On the economic side, it has been the access to the open U.S. market
that has generated the economies of scale that have been needed for
ASEAN and others in the region to develop and to sustain the
impressive growth rates that you've had for over the last 10 years. We
are an integral part of the economic dynamism that the region is
facing. ASEAN and others in the region should hope that the U.S.
remains anchored economically in the region.
At the same time, with the economic growth as we look around the world
-- we look at history, we look at experience -- with economic growth
and development comes more open societies, more open political
process, improvements in human rights. I don't believe that it is
inconsistent for the U.S. to also speak out on the importance of human
rights, even as we support, advocate and participate in continued
economic growth in the region. I think it -- as I said, it's a false
choice that you offer to the U.S., and we will reject that false
choice and continue to push along the lines of an American presence in
the region which helps sustain stability, which helps promote and
sustain economic growth, and which helps advance universal human
rights. And those are the three pillars -- fundamental principles,
tenets, of the American posture in the Asia-Pacific.
MR. HARRIOTT: You don't see it as an either-or, as we say over here?
MS. KRISTOFF:  No, not an either-or.
MR. HARRIOTT: Thank you. Let's return now to Kuala Lumpur for more
questions for Sandra Kristoff.
Q: This is -- (inaudible) -- again. I would like to refer to the
recent upheavals in the region's currencies, which have been thought
to attributed to activities from outside the region. You will agree
that the economic fundamentals are good. So when this kind of external
factor came in at the time when ASEAN was meeting, and when ASEAN
economic gains have been sustained, there was a strong suspicion that
the ASEAN has been unnecessarily undermined. What are the U.S. views
on this? And how can U.S. and ASEAN cooperate economically in the
larger -- in the Asia-Pacific region, and especially now since the
U.S. dollar has gained in strength?
MS. KRISTOFF: Let me very briefly reply to that in two ways. One, I
would commend again to you the statement made by Undersecretary Stuart
Eizenstat, the undersecretary for economic policy, at the press
conference in Kuala Lumpur at the time of the ASEAN post-ministerial.
That one-page statement I think is a very precise articulation of U.S.
views. Secondly, let me just say very quickly that it's important to
keep in mind that Thailand's current difficulties were not caused by
individual speculators taking advantage of the liberalizations that
Thailand made in the early 1990s. To track, Thailand's current
difficulties stem from basic imbalances in macroeconomic policy, and
basic weaknesses in supervising in a prudential fashion its financial
institutions. If those two come in balance and are accompanied by
additional liberalization, then Thailand and others like Thailand will
have the underlying economic fundamentals right and will continue to
enjoy sustained economic growth.
MR. HARRIOTT: We thank you. and with that we have run out of time for
today's program. I would like to sincerely thank Sandra Kristoff,
presidential assistant and senior director for Asian affairs at the
National Security Council, for being with us again here on Worldnet.
MS. KRISTOFF:  Thank you very much, Jim.  It was my pleasure.
MR. HARRIOTT:  Hope to have you back soon.
MS. KRISTOFF:  Thank you.
MR. HARRIOTT: My thanks also to our participants taking part in
Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, and our thanks to our
entire viewing audience as well. In Washington, I'm Jim Harriott for
Worldnet's "Dialogue."
(end transcript)