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Clinton pledges 'balance and harmony' in US foreign policy

world Updated: Feb 17, 2009 23:27 IST
Clinton pledges 'balance and harmony' in US foreign policy

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed on Tuesday to push for more "balance and harmony" in conducting US foreign policy, after visiting a Japanese shrine on the first full day of her Asian tour.

Alluding to the preceding Bush administration's stress on military power, Clinton told a gathering at the US embassy in Tokyo that President Barack Obama's administration sought to balance defence, diplomacy and development.

Clinton has called for a subtle blend of "smart power" as US forces are embroiled in Afghanistan and Iraq and facing perceived nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea -- not to mention climate change and an economic crisis.

"We do talk about the three d's. Defence, diplomacy, development," said Clinton, on her first trip abroad as the chief US diplomat.

"We happen to think they go together. If one gets out of proportion to the others, our policies and our role in the world gets a little out of balance," the secretary of state said.

"I was talking to the head priest who told me about the importance of balance and harmony," she said after a visit early Tuesday to a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji, who ruled Japan when it opened up to the West.

"It's not only a good concept for religious shrines, it's a good concept for America's role in the world," Clinton said after taking part in a ceremony in which she rinsed her hands and a priest waved a purification branch.

"We need to be looking to create more balance, more harmony. We are going to be reaching out to friends and allies," Clinton told US diplomats and other government employees as well as Japanese staff and their families.

"We're going to be listening but we are also going to be asking for more partnerships to come together to try to work with us to handle problems that none of us can handle alone," she added.

Upon arrival on Tokyo on Monday, Clinton said she chose Asia for her first trip "to convey that America's relationships across the Pacific are indispensable to addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century."

In her talks with Japan's leaders and citizens later Tuesday, she said, "we will be looking for ways to collaborate on issues that go beyond just our mutual concerns to really addressing the global concerns."

She said these would include "climate change and clean energy, Afghanistan, Pakistan, nuclear proliferation and other common concerns."

At the embassy, Clinton also repeated concerns about the global financial crisis.

"These are hard times economically for the Japanese people just as it is in many places around the world," she said.

"I'm absolutely confident we will navigate our way through these difficulties but we need to be sensitive to not only how governments are responding" but also to average people who may be losing jobs, she said.

Japan's economics minister warned Monday that Asia's biggest economy shrank at the fastest pace in 35 years in the fourth quarter and faces its worst crisis since World War II.

Japan has greeted Clinton's visit as a sign that the Obama administration will maintain strong ties with the oldest US regional ally, despite China's ascendancy.

Clinton was to hold talks with Japan's embattled prime minister Taro Aso, his foreign and defence ministers, and main opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa, whose party is leading in opinion polls ahead of elections later this year.

Clinton also planned to sign an agreement to relocate 8,000 US marines from the southern Japanese base of Okinawa to the Pacific island of Guam.

She will leave Japan on Wednesday and then visit Indonesia (February 18-19), South Korea (19-20) and China (20-22).