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Cheney Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to Asia, Pacific

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2007 – Vice President Richard B. Cheney today in Australia reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to peace, progress and freedom in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In this neighborhood of the globe,” Cheney said in an address to the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue in Sydney, “millions look to our countries to promote security, economic progress, and democratic ideals.”

Cheney noted that President Bush had expressed the same sentiment in a speech before the Australian Parliament in October 2003.

“As President Bush said when he spoke to your Parliament, America will continue a forward presence in Asia and continue our close partnership with Australia. And we'll help to build a better world through our strong and continuing friendship with Japan.”

Along with other nations, the vice president said, the United States and Australia founded the Proliferation Security Initiative to keep nuclear technology out of irresponsible hands.

“To this end, the six-party process has produced agreement on specific actions that will bring us closer to a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons,” he said. “We go into this deal with our eyes open. In light of North Korea's missile tests last July, its nuclear test in October, and its record of proliferation and human rights abuses, the regime in Pyongyang has much to prove. Yet this agreement represents a first hopeful step towards a better future for the North Korean people.”

Aware that a nuclear North Korea would be a threat to Chinese security, China has played an especially important role in the six-party process, Cheney said.

“We hope China will join us in our efforts to prevent the deployment and the proliferation of deadly technologies, whether in Asia or in the Middle East,” he said. “Other actions by the Chinese government send a different message.”

An anti-satellite test in January and China's continued military buildup “are less constructive and are not consistent with China's stated goal of a ‘peaceful rise,’” Cheney said. “For our part, the United States and Australia have the same hopes for the future of China: that its people will enjoy greater freedom and prosperity, that its government will be a force for stability and peace in this region.”

The United States hopes to continue working successfully with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister John Howard on a regional security structure among the three nations.

“Earlier this week in Tokyo, Prime Minister Abe and I reaffirmed the commitment of both our nations to the trilateral security structure with Australia,” he said. “I hope Prime Minister Howard feels the same way and will underscore that commitment on his visit to Japan next month. The growing closeness among our three countries sends an unmistakable message -- that we are united in the cause of peace and freedom across the region.”

Cheney also stressed the importance of economic progress in stopping the spread of violent ideologies.

“Vigorous, growing economies offer upward mobility and give people the hope of a better life for themselves and for their children,” he said. “And everywhere those hopes are realized, men and women will turn their creative gifts to the pursuit of peace, and ideologies of resentment and violence will lose their appeal.”

The U.S.-Australian alliance has never been more important that it is today, Cheney said.

“One of America's great historians, David McCullough, has noted that ‘among the most difficult and important concepts to convey in teaching or writing history is the simple fact that things never had to turn out as they did. Events past were never on a track. Nothing was foreordained any more then than now.’

“Whether in (the) Battle of Hamel in 1918 or 65 years ago in the Coral Sea,” he continued, “Americans and Australians were not mere witnesses to the unfolding of events. They were acting -- bravely, decisively, and together -- to turn events toward victory.”

Just as decisions and actions of the past reflect in today’s world, decisions and actions now will determine what lies ahead, Cheney said.

“Present events are not on a track,” he said. “In the war on terror, one side will win and the other will lose. Civilization will continue its upward course or go in (a) different direction.”

Today’s perilous times should inspire confidence not fear, Cheney said. “Our forbears were not the sort to be intimidated or worn down by adversaries, and neither are we.”

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