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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will make
her first foreign mission since taking office to East Asia, a nod to the
region's strategic importance and growing role in United States foreign policy.
The eight-day trip will see Secretary Clinton visiting Japan, Indonesia, South
Korea, and China for discussions on issues ranging from climate change to the
international financial crisis. By recent precedent, secretaries of state have
made the Middle East or Europe their first destinations in office, and the
secretary is making a significant break with that tradition to focus on Asia.
During her visits to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea, and China, Secretary
Clinton will be consulting with both stalwart allies and emerging Asian powers.
Departing Feb. 15, she will engage Asian leaders to find common approaches to a
myriad of challenges. With the international trade faltering due to the banking
crises gripping many nations, looming environmental threats, and persistant
security concerns in the region, they will have much to talk about.
Japan, China and South Korea represent some of America's most important foreign
partnerships, while Mrs. Clinton's trip to Indonesia marks an effort to develop
another one in Southeast Asia.
On the agenda in Jakarta will be talks on whether the U.S. Peace Corps program
can be reopened there. The Peace Corps operated briefly there in the 1960s, but
was suspended after only a few years. Reviving it would provide another means
for the U.S. to reach out to the Muslim world, since Indonesia is the world's
largest Muslim nation.