We are ready to explore further ways to build mutual confidence and avoid misunderstandings with Iran. We will strengthen our cooperation with allies and friends to encourage positive changes in Iranian practices that threaten our shared interests. If a government-to-government dialogue can be initiated and sustained in a way that addresses the concerns of both sides, then the United States would be willing to develop with the Islamic Republic a road map leading to normal relations.
Our strategy for South Asia is designed to help the peoples of that region enjoy the fruits of democracy by helping resolve long-standing conflicts, implementing confidence-building measures, and assisting economic development. Regional stability and improved bilateral ties are also important for U.S. economic interests in a region that contains a fifth of the world’s population and one of its most important emerging markets. In addition, we seek to work closely with regional countries to stem the flow of illegal drugs from South Asia, most notably from Afghanistan. We seek to establish relationships with India and Pakistan that are defined in terms of their own individual merits and reflect the full weight and range of U.S. strategic, political and economic interests in each country. The October 1999 coup in Pakistan was a clear setback for democracy in that region, and we have urged Pakistan’s leaders to quickly restore civilian rule and the democratic process.
We seek, as part of our dialogue with India and Pakistan, to encourage both countries to take steps to prevent proliferation, reduce the risk of conflict, and exercise restraint in their nuclear and missile programs. The Indian and Pakistani nuclear and long-range missile tests were dangerously destabilizing and threaten to spark a dangerous arms race in South Asia. Recent fighting along the Line of Control is a reminder of the tensions in that part of the world and of the risk that relatively minor conventional confrontations could spin out of control, with the most serious consequences.
In concert with the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, the G-8 nations, and many others in the international community, the United States has called on both nations to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, to take steps to prevent an arms race in nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, to resume their direct dialogue, and take decisive steps to reduce tensions in South Asia. We also strongly urge these states to refrain from any actions that would further undermine regional and global stability, and urge them to join the clear international consensus in support of nonproliferation and a cut off of fissile material production.
The United States has two principal economic objectives in the region: to promote regional economic cooperation and development and to ensure an unrestricted flow of oil from the region. We seek to promote regional trade and cooperation on infrastructure through the peace process, revitalization of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) economic summits, and our Qualifying Industrial Zone program, which provides economic benefits for certain countries that enter into business arrangements with Israel. In South Asia, we will continue to work with the region’s democracies in their efforts to implement market reforms, strengthen educational systems, and end the use of child and sweatshop labor.
Although the United States imports less than 15% of the oil exported from the Persian Gulf, the region will remain of vital strategic importance to U.S. national security due to the global nature of the international oil market. Previous oil shocks and the Gulf War underscore that any blockage of Gulf supplies or a substantial increase in price would immediately affect the international market, driving up energy costs everywhere — ultimately harming the U.S. economy as well as the economies of our key economic partners in Europe and Japan. Appropriate responses to events such as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait can limit the magnitude of a crisis in the Gulf and its impact on world oil markets. Over the longer term, U.S. dependence on access to these and other foreign oil sources will remain important as our reserves are depleted. That is one of many important reasons why the United States must continue to demonstrate commitment and resolve in the Persian Gulf.
We encourage the spread of democratic values throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Southwest and South Asia and will pursue this objective aided by constructive dialogue with countries in the region. In Iran, for example, we hope the nation’s leaders will carry out the people’s mandate for a government that respects and protects the rule of law, both in its internal and external affairs. We will promote responsible indigenous moves toward increasing political participation and enhancing the quality of governance, and we will continue to challenge governments in the region to improve their human rights records. Respect for human rights also requires rejection of terrorism. If the nations in the region are to safeguard their own citizens from the threat of terror, they cannot tolerate acts of indiscriminate violence against civilians, nor can they offer refuge to those who commit such acts.
Our policies are guided by our profound respect for Islam. The Muslim religion is the fastest-growing faith in the United States. We recognize and honor Islam’s role as a source of inspiration, instruction and moral guidance for hundreds of millions of people around the world. U.S. policy in the region is directed at the actions of governments and terrorist groups, not peoples or faiths.
In recent years, the United States has engaged in a concerted effort to transform our relationship with Africa. We have supported efforts by many African nations to move toward multi-party democracy, hold free and fair elections, promote human rights, allow freedom of the press and association, and reform their economies. A new, post-colonial political order is emerging in Africa, with emphasis on democratic and pragmatic approaches to solving political, economic and environmental problems, and developing human and natural resources. U.S.-Africa ties are deepening, and U.S.-Africa trade is expanding.
Sustaining these recent successes will require that we identify those issues that most directly affect our interests, and on which we can make a difference through efficient and effective targeting of our resources. We will promote regional stability through engagement with sub-regional organizations and key African states using carefully harmonized U.S. programs and initiatives. Our immediate objective is to increase the number of capable states in Africa; that is, nations that are able to define the challenges they face, manage their resources to effectively address those challenges, and build stability and peace within their borders and their sub-regions.
Serious transnational security threats emanate from pockets of Africa, including state-sponsored terrorism, drug trafficking, international crime, environmental degradation and infectious diseases, especially HIV/AIDS. Since these threats transcend state borders, they are best