move ahead, but without stronger support from the government, progress will remain uneven. Privatization of the banking sector, which has been largely under government control since the crisis, is another area of worrying policy drift. With Vietnam, we are working toward completion of a broad commercial agreement that will open that country’s markets, promote economic reform, and open the way for congressional approval of Normal Trade Relations for Vietnam. Nearby in Singapore, in November 2000, President Clinton and Prime Minister Goh of Singapore agreed to launch negotiations for a free trade agreement. In addition to the economic benefits both countries would be expected to gain, the two leaders have recognized the importance of continued U.S. engagement in Asia based on economic and security interests. Working with ASEAN members to address environmental degradation — from forest fires and haze, to fisheries depletion and deforestation — while striving for sustainable economic growth, is a high priority.
Australia and New Zealand
We will continue to build on our close working relationship with Australia and New Zealand to strengthen our bilateral trade and economic relationships. We will also work with these two key partners to develop international support for further action by APEC and by the World Trade Organization to develop rules-based trade and encourage sector liberalization.
Promoting Democracy and Human Rights
The United States will continue to support the democratic aspirations of Asian/Pacific peoples and to promote respect for human rights. Our strategy is best served through close coordination with our allies and friends in the region, both at the governmental and non-governmental organization level. Our priorities include: progress on human rights, religious freedom and rule of law issues in China; a meaningful political dialogue between the ruling authorities in Burma and the democratic opposition; supporting Indonesia’s democratic transition; and contributing to East Timor’s transition to independence.
The United States strongly supports a united, prosperous, and democratic Indonesia that plays a positive role in regional security. The October 1999 election was a historic moment for Indonesia, putting it on course to become the world’s third largest democracy. We continue to assist Indonesia in managing the considerable challenges of national reconciliation, democratic reform and economic recovery. We have tailored a comprehensive assistance package focused on: economic development; humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development in strife-torn areas; and technical assistance in key government sectors designed to reinforce the democratic process and the rule of law.
The United States will continue to work with other concerned states to create the conditions for a meaningful dialogue between the regime and the democratic opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi. Our strategy includes investment and other sanctions to increase pressure on the regime to respect basic human rights. At the same time, we support the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to use his good offices to promote dialogue leading to a democratic transition.
The UN Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET), established in October 1999, followed on the success of the UN-sanctioned International force in East Timor (INTERFET). The UN-Sanctioned International Force in East Timor was an Australian-led mission that deployed in September 1999, with U.S. support, to quell the post-
referendum violence in East Timor. The UN Transitional Authority in East Timor took over security responsibilities from INTERFET in February 2000. UNTAET has continued to further the goal of an independent and viable East Timor. Our contributions have a strong impact on UNTAET’s success. We are providing long-term development assistance and transitional employment opportunities to the East Timorese people, as well as financial and technical support for the UN transition administration. Our military forces have provided on-going health and infrastructure support directly to the East Timorese people, and have maintained a presence to coordinate humanitarian and civic assistance projects. We remain committed to attaining a durable solution to the plight of East Timorese refugees in Indonesia. A challenge for the future is assisting with the establishment of a small yet viable East Timor Defense Force.
The Western Hemisphere
Our hemisphere enters the 21st century with an unprecedented opportunity to secure a future of stability and prosperity-building on the fact that virtually all nations in the hemisphere are democratic and committed to free market economies. The end of armed conflict in Central America and other improvements in regional security have coincided with remarkable political and economic progress throughout the Americas. The people of the Americas are taking advantage of the vast opportunities being created as emerging markets are connected through electronic commerce and as maturing democracies allow individuals to more fully express their preferences. Sub-regional political, economic, and security cooperation in North America, the Caribbean, Central America, the Andean region, and the Southern Cone have contributed positively to peace and prosperity throughout the hemisphere. Equally important, the people of the Americas have reaffirmed their commitment to combat together the difficult threats posed by drug trafficking and corruption. The United States, which helped shape this new climate in the hemisphere, seeks to secure its benefits while safeguarding our citizens against these threats.
Our strategy of engagement in the Western Hemisphere has included strengthening and expanding U.S. defense cooperation with friends throughout the region, and supporting their efforts to institute democratic norms within their defense establishments including civilian control, transparency, and public accountability. As these democratic norms take root, regional confidence builds. The United States also will continue working to strengthen regional and sub-regional cooperative security mechanisms that could serve to deepen regional confidence and foster sustained regional stability. We will continue to offer our strong support for the peaceful resolution of disputes in the region, and will encourage continued dialogue and peaceful engagement among nations of the region to achieve this goal. While respecting sovereignty concerns, we remain committed to promoting cooperative approaches throughout the hemisphere to international peacekeeping threats and humanitarian crises.
The principal threats to hemispheric stability are transnational in nature, such as drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal immigration, firearms trafficking, and terrorism. In addition, our hemisphere is leading the way in recognizing the dangers to national and regional stability produced by corruption and ineffective judicial systems. All of these produce adverse social effects at home and undermine the sovereignty, democracy, and national security of nations in the hemisphere.