The United States will continue helping the NIS economies integrate into international economic and other institutions and develop healthy business climates. We will continue to mobilize the international community to provide assistance to support reform. The United States is working closely with Russia and Ukraine in priority areas, including defense conversion, the environment, trade and investment, and scientific and technological cooperation. We are also encouraging investment, especially by U.S. companies, in NIS energy resources and their export to world markets, thereby expanding and diversifying world energy supplies and promoting prosperity in the NIS.
Ultimately, the success of economic and financial reforms in the countries recently emerged from communism will depend more on private investment than official aid. One of our priorities, therefore, is to help countries stimulate foreign and domestic investment. At the Helsinki Summit, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin defined an ambitious reform agenda covering key tax, energy and commercial laws crucial for Russia to realize its potential for attracting foreign investment. Further, the Presidents outlined steps to accelerate Russian membership on commercial terms in key economic organizations such as the WTO. It is in both Russia’s interest and ours that we work with Russian leaders on passage of key economic and commercial legislation. We are cooperating with Russia to facilitate oil and gas exports to and through Russia from neighboring Caspian countries. We also support development of new East-West oil and gas export routes across the Caspian Sea and through the Transcaucasus and Turkey.
Ukraine is at an important point in its economic transition—one that will affect its integration with Europe and domestic prosperity. The United States has mobilized the international community’s support for Ukrainian economic reform, pushed to improve Ukraine’s investment climate, and championed its integration into key European, transatlantic and global economic institutions. Two other challenges stand out: first, to instill respect for the rule of law so that a more transparent, level economic playing field is established and democratic governance prevails; and, second, to gain international support as it seeks to close down Chernobyl and reform its energy sector. The U.S.-Ukraine Binational Commission, chaired by Vice President Gore and President Kuchma, serves as a focal point to coordinate bilateral relations and to invigorate Ukrainian reform efforts.
A stable and prosperous Caucasus and Central Asia will help promote stability and security from the Mediterranean to China and facilitate rapid development and transport to international markets of the large Caspian oil and gas resources, with substantial U.S. commercial participation. While the new states in the region have made progress in their quest for sovereignty and a secure place in the international arena, much remains to be done in democratic and economic reform and in settling regional conflicts, such as Nagorno-Karabakh and Abkhazia.
Thoroughgoing democratic and economic reforms in the NIS and Europe’s former communist states are the best measures to avert conditions which could foster aggressive nationalism and ethnic hatreds. Already, the prospect of joining or rejoining the Western democratic family has dampened the forces of nationalism and strengthened the forces of democracy and reform in many countries of the region.
The independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and democratic and economic reform of the NIS are important to American interests. To advance these goals, we are utilizing our bilateral relationships, our leadership of international institutions, and billions of dollars in private and multilateral resources. But the circumstances affecting the smaller countries depend in significant measure on the fate of reform in the largest and most powerful—Russia. The United States will continue vigorously to promote Russian reform and international integration, and discourage any reversal in the progress that has been made. Our economic and political support for the Russian government depends on its commitment to internal reform and a responsible foreign policy.
East Asia and the Pacific
President Clinton’s vision of a new Pacific community links security interests with economic growth and our commitment to democracy and human rights. We continue to build on that vision, cementing America’s role as a stabilizing force in a more integrated Asia Pacific region.
Our military presence has been essential to maintaining the stability that has enabled most nations in the Asia Pacific region to build thriving economies for the benefit of all. To deter aggression and secure our own interests, we will maintain approximately 100,000 U.S. military personnel in the region. Our commitment to maintaining an active military presence in the region and our treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines serve as the foundation for America’s continuing security role.
We are maintaining healthy relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which now includes Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos and Burma. We are also supporting regional dialogue— such as in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)—on the full range of common security challenges. By meeting on confidence-building measures such as search and rescue cooperation and peacekeeping, the ARF can help enhance regional security and understanding.
The United States and Japan reaffirmed our bilateral security relationship in the April 1996 Joint Security Declaration. The alliance continues to be the cornerstone for achieving common security objectives and for maintaining a stable and prosperous environment for the Asia Pacific region as we enter the twenty-first century. In September 1997, both Governments issued the revised Guidelines for U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation which will result in greater bilateral cooperation in peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations, in situations in areas surrounding Japan, and in the defense of Japan itself. The revised Guidelines, like the U.S.-Japan security relationship itself, are not directed against any other country.
In April 1998, in order to support the new Guidelines, both governments agreed to a revised Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) which expands the exchange of provision of supplies and services to include reciprocal provision of logistics support during situations surrounding Japan that have an important influence on Japan’s peace and security. While the guidelines and its related efforts have specifically focused on regional security, both countries have continued to cooperate in the implementation of the Special Action Committee on Okinawa (SACO) Final report. This effort initiated plans and measures to realign, consolidate, and reduce U.S. facilities and areas in Okinawa in order to ease the impact of U.S. Forces’ presence on the people of Okinawa. Implementation of SACO will ultimately aid in ensuring the maintenance of U.S. operational capabilities and force presence in the Asia-Pacific region.