Earlier this week, Secretary of State John Kerry concluded his fifth trip to Asia since being sworn in to lead the State Department one year ago. His itinerary this time included stops in South Korea, China and Indonesia. In each country, Secretary Kerry met with high-level officials and discussed topics relevant to the US rebalance to Asia, and of both regional and global concern.
In Seoul, Secretary Kerry held talks with both President Park Geun-hye and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. Topics of discussion included North Korea and its illicit nuclear program, US-South Korea security cooperation, and the increasing levels of two-way trade between Korea and the US. He emphasized that the relationship is much more than just a military one, and that the global partnership shared by the two countries is strengthening every year.
From there, Mr. Kerry traveled to Beijing where he focused on the issues of global climate change and how to accomplish the denuclearization of North Korea. In his talks with Chinese leadership, and in a visit to a US-Chinese joint venture engine manufacturing facility, he pointed out that the US and China are the world’s two largest carbon emitters and thus have the opportunity to cooperatively lead innovation in mitigating climate change. As such, China and the US entered into an information-sharing agreement on climate strategy to prepare policy solutions ahead of a global climate summit in Paris next year.
In Jakarta, the last stop of his trip in Asia, Secretary Kerry also included climate change on his agenda, as well as highlighting the many areas of progress achieved through the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership. Indonesia has 17,000 islands, many of which are threatened by rising sea levels, making climate change a particularly salient issue there. After the fourth Joint Commission Meeting of the Comprehensive Partnership, which Mr. Kerry and Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa co-chaired, several major accomplishments from the partnership were announced. These included progress in security cooperation, improvements in economic ties, strengthening of environmental protections, and various new exchanges in the fields of education, science and technology.