American foreign policy needs to transition from the Middle East to Asia, a top US diplomat said today while rejecting any notion that recent economic woes signalled the United States was in decline.
Kurt Campbell, the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, added in an interview with The Australian newspaper that there was more to US-Asia diplomacy than Washington’s relationship with Beijing.
“One of the most important challenges for US foreign policy is to effect a transition from the immediate and vexing challenges of the Middle East to the long-term and deeply consequential issues in Asia,” Campbell said.
He made clear this did not mean Washington would neglect its responsibilities in the Middle East, but was rather a desire to deepen relations with the Asian region.
And while efforts were being made to enhance Washington’s dialogue with China, it was more than just relations with Beijing that were important.
“I think what you see is an across-the-board effort (by the US) to articulate India as playing a greater role in Asia,” said Campbell, a key aide to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Also, revitalising relations with ASEAN — both ASEAN as an institution, and with its key members such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, and revitalising what used to be a very important relationship with the Philippines.”
Campbell said America’s economic troubles, that came to a head this month when Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit rating, meant he was having to project a more basic message to Asia — that the United States is in the region to stay.