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Airmen and Marines; reinforcing the Constants in the Pacific Region; and promoting change and improving our Asia-Pacific Defense Posture for the Future.
The men and women of the U.S. Pacific Command welcome this opportunity to tell their story. The support of the Congress and the American people is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Mr. Leach. Secretary LaFleur.
STATEMENT OF CHRISTOPHER LaFLEUR, SPECIAL ENVOY FOR NORTHEAST ASIA SECURITY CONSULTATIONS, BUREAU FOR EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Mr. Lafleur. Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I have covered a fair range of regional issues in my written testimony, and I would like to concentrate, if I may, in my oral remarks on the two areas in which I am principally focused in my work, which is on our discussions with the Republic of Korea and Japan on the future of our alliances.
Mr. Leach. That is very appropriate, but particularly appropriate if you would pull the microphone closer.
Mr. Lafleur. Thank you, sir.
We began our discussions with both the Republic of Korea and with Japan earlier this year, and it is a particularly appropriate time in many ways to be reviewing the future of our alliances with both of our partners.
First and most obviously, we are at the half century mark in our alliances with both countries. We celebrated that with the Japanese 2 years ago in San Francisco, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of our security alliance with the Republic of Korea.
In addition, of course, we have as an ongoing task the adjustment of our respective defense postures to the end of the cold war as well as to the emergence of new and serious challenges to our security, most notably our efforts to deal with the war on terrorism.
In addition, of course, there is the advancement in military technology, which has opened up new possibilities for us to contribute to the defense of our allies, and for their part, our allies are obviously not the countries with which we made these agreements some 50 years ago. They are strong global actors who have new capabilities, and our alliances should definitely reflect that.
These discussions fit into our broader objectives of reinforcing our alliances throughout the region, strengthening our cooperation with like-minded countries, seeking areas of cooperation, even greater areas of cooperation, with other countries, as well as to deter any additional threats and challenges that we may face in the region.
We have started and have covered the most ground, I think, with the Republic of Korea, in large part because we are building on some considerable work that has been done over the years in this area already. Agreements had already been reached in the early 1990s, for example, that we would be moving the bulk of our forces out of the Yongsan Garrison located in downtown Seoul, and the question was how to proceed more expeditiously with implementation.
We had also more recently come to some agreements on consolidating our physical presence in the ROK in what is called the Land Partnership Program, but recently we have decided, based on some of the factors I mentioned a moment ago, that we could go further; and at our SCM meeting between the Secretary of Defense and his Republic of Korea counterpart last December, an agreement was reached to launch a future of the alliance study between the two countries, and that is what we have embarked on.
We have made good progress in our first two official rounds of these talks, including agreements in principle to accelerate the transition out of Yongsan, to reshape U.S. forces principally into two main hubs, and to transfer certain conventional defense roles to ROK forces as the ROK itself expands its defense efforts.
Both sides, of course, are acutely aware of the threat posed by North Korea, and at the summit our Presidents agreed that we would be proceeding with this plan while we continue to consult closely.
We believe that the ROK appreciates that we want to establish facilities for the long term that will strengthen ROK's security and our joint deterrence.
With the Japan situation, it is somewhat different. Our forces in Japan are already configured in many ways to deploy as rapidly as needed because of their overall assignments in the defense of Japan and the responsibilities in the Far East in general. At the 2+2 meeting between our Secretaries of Defense and State and their Japanese counterparts, also last December, though, we agreed also that we would launch a review of ways to further enhance our alliance, and we have had some preliminary discussions already toward that effort. We are reviewing and have reviewed our shared security objectives, as well as current United States and Japan plans to enhance our capabilities in the future.
Planning is still ongoing, of course, on both sides, so we have not reached the stage where we can identify major changes in our current arrangements. However, I would point out that events are also moving forward as we conduct these discussions, and Japan's decision to support us in Iraq and most recently the Japanese Government's decision to introduce legislation to promote greater participation by Japan in Iraq efforts would constitute, if approved by the Diet, an important change in Japan's policy. This is certainly encouraging from our point of view.
We intend to maintain an active schedule of discussions with both partners in the months ahead, with a view to reporting the results to our superiors as soon as we can. We believe that the end result will be to strengthen both our alliances as our partners recognize that we are committed to long-term partnerships, responsive to their changing capabilities, and intent on sustaining our role in the East Asia and Pacific region. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. LEACH. Well, thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. LaFleur follows:]
Prepared Statement Of Christopher Lafleur, Special Envoy For Northeast Asia Security Consultations, Bureau For East Asian And Pacific Affairs, U.S. Department Of State
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the subject of U.S. Security Policy in the Asia Pacific region.
Our objectives in the Asia Pacific region are based on the President's 2002 National Security Strategy, which commits the United States to:
• champion aspirations for human dignity;
• strengthen our alliances to defeat global terrorism;
• defuse regional conflicts;
• prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends with weapons of mass destruction;
• ignite an era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade;
• expand development through open societies and the infrastructure of democracy;
• develop agendas for cooperative action with the main centers of global power; and
• transform our national security institutions to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The Strategy was published almost exactly a year after September 11, 2001. These objectives require new thinking about where we focus our energies in the East Asia region. At the same time, they have also focused our attention on the enduring value of America's alliances in Asia. These five alliances—Japan, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, and Thailand—are important to achieving our objectives in the region in every sense. In addition, we are working with traditional friends, regional groups and others to bolster cooperation to address our concerns.
We are working to enhance our alliances and friendships in East Asia by ensuring that our linchpin ally, Japan, continues to play a leading role in both regional and global affairs, based on our common interests, common values, and close defense and diplomatic cooperation.
We reaffirmed those common values and interests with Japan in the meeting of the Security Consultative Committee—commonly referred to as the "2+2"—in December 2002. The "2+2" Joint Statement is testimony to our shared views on threats of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, Iraq, North Korea, regional security issues, China's role in regional stability and prosperity, missile defense and defense planning. I note that the level of Japan's participation in Operation Enduring Freedom has been unprecedented and, for Japan, pathbreaking.
We are working with South Korea to maintain deterrence towards the North while preparing our alliance to make contributions to the broader international stability over the long term. At their May 14, 2003, meeting in Washington, DC, President Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun reaffirmed the strength of our relationship, and in a joint statement they underscored that they would not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea and insisted on the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program through peaceful means based on international cooperation. With Japan and South Korea, we are coordinating our policy on North Korea through the TCOG meetings, the most recent of which took place in Honolulu on June 12-13, 2003.
Australia has proved yet again to be an indispensable ally in the Asia-Pacific region, international CT, non-proliferation, and other security cooperation. We are building on 50 years of U.S.-Australian alliance cooperation as we focus on regional and global problems. Australia's central role in the Iraq conflict, its support of our troops in Afghanistan, its ongoing peacekeeping efforts in East Timor, and its commitment to fight terrorism at home and in the Asia-Pacific region proves how valuable an ally it is in taking its security commitments to the common defense seriously.
With the Philippines, the recent State Visit of President Arroyo illustrated that security relations are deeper and warmer today than at any time in recent history. The two Presidents pledged to strengthen the partnership further in the years ahead. We have redoubled our commitment to assist the Philippines to develop the capacity to counter the terrorist threat in the southern part of the country. President Arroyo also has pledged to contribute personnel to the coalition effort in the reconstruction of Iraq. In addition, we have designated the Philippines a Major NonNATO Ally.
With Thailand, we have deepened our already close cooperation on counterterrorism. Recent successes include the arrest of three members of a Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) support cell who are suspected of plotting to attack diplomatic missions and other targets in Thailand. In addition, Thai authorities, working with U.S. Customs and Embassy Bangkok, this month apprehended an individual attempting to sell a small amount of radioactive material.
Although not an ally, China also plays a critical role in Asia's security and has played a helpful role in the counterterrorism campaign. We have welcomed China's cooperation in helping to resolve our mutual concerns about North Korea's nuclear program. The PRC has stressed its opposition to the North Korea's decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its concerns over North Korea's nuclear capabilities, and its desire for a non-nuclear Korean peninsula. China also most recently played a key role in organizing the April multilateral talks in Beijing.
Finally, we are seeking to strengthen our relations with other friendly countries in the region and regional institutions in East Asia. We are working to expand our cooperation with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asian Regional Forum (ARF), and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum to manage change in the dynamic East Asian area and to enhance security in this large and important region. Secretary Powell has just returned from productive Post-ASEAN Ministerial Conference and ARF meetings in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, that addressed critical regional security issues, including North Korea and Burma.
As the Secretary stated, "The ARF members made it abundantly clear that we all need to work together to see a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula. ASEAN's help in keeping pressure on North Korea is absolutely necessary to achieve a diplomatic solution that leaves the peninsula, the region, and the world safer."
To support the development of ASEAN as an institution critical to the security and development of the pivotal Southeast Asia region, we are working to implement the ASEAN Cooperation Plan (ACP) and the Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative (EAI), announced by Secretary Powell and the President last year. The goal of these initiatives is to strengthen ASEAN's institutional capacities, to encourage greater integration of the new, less economically advanced states in ASEAN, to enhance ASEAN's ability to contribute to regional stability, and to expand our already strong economic ties through trade agreements with qualified countries in Southeast Asia. We have already concluded a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore and are laying the groundwork for possible agreements with other Southeast Asian states in the future.
I would like to focus now on the two alliance relationships in which we have launched comprehensive reviews, these being the Republic of Korea and Japan
South Korea's opportunity to participate actively in shaping regional and global affairs has grown significantly as its economy has developed. The ROK has strongly supported the global war on terrorism and its support for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq reflect Seoul's commitment to an increasingly global partnership. Most recently, President Roh dispatched engineer and medical troops in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Korea has agreed to grant $10 million in humanitarian aid for the Iraqi people, including $500,000 to help improve prisons. Looking forward, Seoul is already thinking about pledging reconstruction aid to Iraq, following up on the $45 million it is giving to Afghanistan.
Our discussions on security posture with the ROK were launched first and have made significant progress, in part because we are building on the understandings we have reached over the past decade to reduce the footprint of U.S. facilities in the ROK. We agreed in the early 1990s to relocate U.S. forces at the Yongsan Garrison in downtown Seoul. Over the past several years, we also finalized plans to consolidate U.S. facilities across the ROK.
However, at the December 2002 ROK-U.S. Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) held in Washington, D.C., both sides realized we had the opportunity to take greater advantage of advances in military art and science. The SCM established a "Future of the Alliance Policy Initiative," to conduct policy-level discussions to develop options for modernizing and strengthening the alliance.
The initial "Future of the Alliance Policy Initiative" meeting was held in Seoul on April 8-9, attended by senior officials of the ROK Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard P. Lawless and I represented the U.S. side. The Koreans and we shared the view that the U.S.-ROK alliance must be developed in ways that contribute to security not only on the Peninsula but also in the larger Northeast Asian region and beyond. We agreed in principle to expand the role of ROK forces in Peninsula defense and to enhance U.S. forces ability to contribute to regional stability, and we proposed a plan to strengthen the future of the alliance by further developing 21st century war-fighting capabilities.
We agreed to consult further on modernization of the ROK-U.S. combined defense posture and deterrence capability by consolidating the USFK base structure to achieve greater efficiency and to foster the balanced development of ROK national lands. We agreed as well to continue discussion on the timing of the overall realignment process.
President Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, reviewed these issues at their first summit in May. The two Presidents pledged to "consult closely on the appropriate posture of the USFK during the transition to a more capable and sustainable U.S. military presence on the Peninsula." They acknowledged the "opportunity provided by the Republic of Korea's growing national strength to continue expanding the role of the ROK armed forces in defending the Korean Peninsula."
On June 4-5, we conducted the second round of talks on the "Future of the Alliance Initiative" in Seoul. Basing discussions on the May U.S.-ROK summit, the U.S. and South Korea agreed on a two-phase, multi-year pullback of ground troops from near the Demilitarized Zone.
We briefed the ROK on our plans to invest in an $11 billion program for strengthening our defense capabilities in the ROK, including upgraded missile systems, and reinforced military intelligence. These measures will enhance our two nations' military force readiness and build a stronger deterrent posture. Frontline defense capabilities will remain strong as the ROK invests in its own capabilities and assumes a number of roles currently assigned to U.S. forces. In addition, we briefed on our intention to retain a major training facility north of Seoul where U.S. units will rotate for training regularly.
Our close consultations with the South Korea are ongoing. ROK Defense Minister Cho will visit Washington June 26-27, where he will meet with the Vice President, Secretary Powell and Secretary Rumsfeld. We aimed to convene the next round of "Future of the Alliance" talks soon.
The objective of all this activity is to build a stronger U.S.-ROK alliance, restructured for the 21st Century and the new security environment. This will enhance deterrence on the Korean Peninsula and enable U.S. Forces in Korea to make a larger contribution to regional security. Our bases and military personnel will be repositioned so as to be less intrusive to our South Korean neighbors.
Turning to Japan, our bilateral security relationship remains the linchpin of our defense posture in the Asia-Pacific region. Based on our Mutual Security Treaty, we enjoy a very close and mutually beneficial relationship with Japan, the most important feature of which is the broad forward deployment that our bases and facilities in Japan afford, not only for the defense of Japan but for our regional and global interests as well. Many of our Japan-based forces, such as the Third Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa, are expeditionary in nature, allowing for rapid deployment as circumstances require.
Although our bilateral security relationship was created to address the more localized security environment of the Cold War, it has been evolving steadily as the global security environment has changed. These changes reflect the need for the alliance to take into account the broader regional and international security environment, beyond the direct defense of Japan. In 1997, we revised the Guidelines for U.S.Japan Defense Cooperation to establish a framework for the parties to cooperate in responding not only to threats against Japan but also to security situations in the region surrounding Japan. For their part, the Japanese have taken a number of steps allowing them to increase their participation in global security matters, such as the enactment in the early 1990s of a law allowing Japanese participation, albeit in a limited fashion, in international peacekeeping and, during Operation Enduring Freedom, to dispatch military forces and materiel to assist in CT operations far from Japanese shores.
The security relationship continues to evolve and at a rapid pace. Understanding that global terrorism is a threat to Japan, just as to other democratic and free societies, the Japanese responded with unprecedented speed and determination to the September 11 terrorist attacks. They quickly enacted a number of laws that allowed their Self-Defense Forces to provide military logistical rear-area support for Operation Enduring Freedom. They are in the process of enacting similar laws that will allow a comparable level of engagement in Iraq. Japan is a party to all UN conventions aimed at stopping terrorism and has cooperated well in freezing the assets of terrorists and terrorist organizations and in helping build CT capacity among other nations of the Asia-Pacific region. In recent months, Japan has also displayed a