Ambassador Schieffer Holds First Embassy Press Conference

U.S. Embassy, Tokyo
April 18, 2005

MODERATOR: Gentlemen, good morning. We are on the record today. A couple of housekeeping notes - the Ambassador will make a short statement to begin and then take your questions. Would you please ask your questions at the microphones in the front, so that the interpreters up above can hear and do the interpretation. We will allow one question and one follow-up. So, with no further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce United States Ambassador J. Thomas Schieffer.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, thank you Mike. It is a real pleasure for me to be here this morning. I've been here a little over a week now, and it's been a great and eventful time to be here. My first day at the office on Monday, I had a chance to meet with the Emperor in the morning and present my credentials, and that was a very memorable occasion. Then I had a chance, with Secretary Mineta, to say hello to the Prime Minister that afternoon and to have dinner that night with Foreign Minister Machimura. I have also had a chance to visit with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hosoda, and in all of these meetings I have been able to express my deep appreciation for the welcome that I have received here in Japan. This is a beautiful country; it is a relationship that the United States treasures, and I look forward to working with all of these people in the months and years ahead. I also look forward to being able to work with you, and to be able to address the concerns of the Japanese people, as you bring them up with me through the media. And I expect to have regular meetings like this with you, as well as when I travel around Japan in the future, to be able to see and talk to the members of the Japanese media. With that, I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, my name is Yoichi Kato with Asahi Shimbun. You just mentioned concern of Japanese people, and one of the concerns of Japanese people right now, we have vis-a-vis the relationship with the United States is base realignment and forces realignment in Japan. And it seems to be that this entire negotiation started with the premise that both of the countries work on two pillars - one is maintenance of the deterrence of U.S. forces and the other is to reduce the footprints of U.S. forces stationed in Japan. It seems to be with the recent development of the situation in the region, U.S. side is shifting more toward the maintenance of a deterrence instead of a reduction of forces. And I understand the negotiation is still ongoing. But if you could share the views where it stands right now and where it's going, especially on the part of the reduction of footprints.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: We have had some very good discussions with the government of Japan regarding our military here and throughout Asia. I think those discussions are going very well. I don't want to preempt what is being talked about other than to say that I think good progress is being made. I think we are going to be successful in those discussions because I think ultimately, at the end of the day, both governments share the same objectives, and that is to reduce the burden on each of our governments and each of our peoples with regard to the military that is positioned here. But also - when we talk about reducing that footprint - also maintaining the capabilities that we have.

The first order of business is to provide for the defense of Japan and we want to do that in these discussions and that's always paramount in what we talk about. The other thing is to maintain the stability of the region, which is extraordinarily important. Those two things, I think the government of the United States and the government of Japan share broad conceptual agreement on those. And I think because we share those values and those same ideas, I think that that will ultimately lead to a successful discussion that will produce a footprint that is reduced in Japan but a capability that remains in Japan.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Saki Ouchi with the Yomiuri Shimbun. You've just mentioned about the importance of stability in the region. One of the issues Japan is facing right now is the tense relationship with China. As the U.S. and Japan and the region try to prepare for the next round of six-party talks, what do you think will be the impact of the current tension?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: First of all, we are concerned that ... of the tension that has existed here recently. I think anytime that you see Embassies coming under these kinds of difficulties it is a matter of concern. But we hope that that will not impact the six-party talks and I don't think it will and I'll tell you why.

I think that Japan, China, the United States, Russia, and South Korea all share a common goal, and that is that nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula are not in the interest of anyone, including North Korea. We have been able, I think, to express that view in the past; I think we are going to be able to express that view in the future. And I think that the more we are able to deliver that message with one voice, the better the chance that we'll be able to solve this matter diplomatically, and I'm very hopeful that we are going to be able to accomplish that.

QUESTION: Takashi Ono with TV Asahi. As she mentioned, violent demonstrations against Japan swept across China for a second week and former foreign minister of China mentioned that China would supply Japan's bid for a permanent membership on the UN Security Council only if Japan demonstrated contrition for its brutal rule of China from 1931 to 1945. Now, do you personally support Japan's permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council, and do you see that Japan's bid for the permanent membership is now beyond possibility?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Not only do I personally support Japan's bid to be on the United Nations Security Council, but more importantly my government supports that. We believe that at the end of the day, whatever reform occurs in the United Nations, that Japan ought to be on the Security Council. In the broader sense, we understand that when you talk about reform in the United Nations that there are many facets to that. It's a very complicated situation, and we hope that the process will work itself out so that we can have reform and produce a United Nations that is effective in dealing with international issues. But at the very main part of that argument, at the end of the day, Japan - I think - has to be on the Security Council for there to be meaningful reform.

QUESTION: Good morning, sir. Lance Corporal Ashley Bryant, American Forces Network, Tokyo. Two-part question: first of all, taking a look at Japan Self-Defense Force and their involvement in Iraq with the tsunami relief efforts and also in correlation with talk of transformation of U.S. forces in the Pacific, what's your view of the U.S. defense relationship with Japan and also what is your message to the U.S. military members and their families stationed in Japan?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, my message to the American military that's serving here is an appreciation for what they do in serving their country, and I think they do a fine job. I think that the fact that they serve here in Japan with distinction is something that every American takes pride in.

I think that you saw with the Japanese defense forces - the Self-Defense Forces - you saw that what we did together in the tsunami relief can have a tremendous impact for good in this part of the world. We saw a crisis there and we saw it together. And because we were able to work together there, I think both of us were able to take a message of hope and a message of positive engagement in the area as a result of our work there. And I think that because we are such close allies, things like that can be done - not easier - but with greater effectiveness than if we were not working so closely together.

QUESTION: Hi. Jim Brooke of the New York Times. Welcome to Tokyo. My question is about beef, drawing on your roots in Texas and your recent station in Australia. It's been at least three years now ... U.S. beef has been cut out of the Japanese market; it's been six months since this joint communique - agreement - statement - whatever it was, on October 23rd. There's a lot of movement in the U.S. Congress, I believe there are about 18 red State senators that have signed a letter asking that American beef come back to Japan. I was wondering, (a) what do you think of the pace of the food safety commission's action on this and what do you plan to do to speed things along?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, obviously we would hope that this issue will be resolved as soon as possible. I think we have made some significant progress in that direction in the last few weeks. We, as a matter of fact, will bring a team of experts - scientific experts - out here to Japan next week to try to answer any other questions that the Japanese might have on scientific grounds for continuing this ban.

What we want to do at the end of the day is to have this issue resolved on scientific terms, and to do that we hope that people can step back a little bit from the emotion of the issue to look at it on scientific grounds. And when they do that, we think that they will find that American beef is safe. After all, 300 million Americans are eating that beef everyday and there are no health concerns in the United States.

What we would like to do is to get this issue resolved on a science basis, so that the Japanese consumer can make the same decision as to whether they want to buy American beef or not, and we understand people's concern about the health of their citizens. Every government's first concern, whether that's in Japan or the United States, is the health of its citizens. And we don't want Japanese citizens to be put at risk on account of anything that we would export to this country. But by the same token, we would like for Japan and the Japanese public to look at the situation as it exists in the United States right now. We think that we can deliver safe beef to Japan on a daily basis, and we hope to convince the Japanese government and the Japanese public of that same thing. And that is one of the reasons we want to bring this team of scientists out here to help answer and resolve any questions that the Japanese might have.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Mike Firn from Bloomberg News. Just a follow-up question on beef - a number of U.S. senators have called for sanctions if Japan doesn't resume imports of beef. If Japan continues to drag its feet on this, would sanctions ever be an option?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: When I was going through the confirmation process in the United States Senate, which is a somewhat a different process than Ambassador's go through in Japan, because we have to be approved by the Senate - you can be nominated by the President but you also have to be approved by the Senate - and what happened to me in that process is that several senators, both on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and senators that were not on the Foreign Relations Committee, asked to meet with me and one of the issues that they continually brought up was the issue of BSE and the export ban that is occurring here in Japan. And what they told me time and time again was ... they'd start the conversation by saying "We're friends of Japan, I want you to understand that. We value the contributions that Japan is making around the world in supporting American positions and showing that time and time again that they are great allies of the United States." But they also wanted me to understand that this is a real issue in their constituencies, and that they don't want this issue to boil over into the larger relationship and they urged me to do everything I could to try to get it resolved as soon as could be in order for it not to spill over. And, I think we are going to be able to do that. I think that we are going to be able to resolve it, hopefully sooner rather than later. But we don't want this to be a continuing irritant in the relationship. It serves the interest of neither country.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Steve Herman from the Voice of America. Getting back to the issue of China, you mentioned about issues of concern to the Japanese. This seems to be one of those right at the top of the list right now. I'm wondering how involved you are in consulting with the Japanese government officials on this issue of the demonstrations in China, or do you essentially just see this as a bilateral issue and hands-off as far as the United States is concerned?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think the Chinese and the Japanese have got to come to a conclusion as to how they handle this issue between themselves, and that's the first thing that we look at. But having said that, the stability of Asia is important, and the peace of Asia is important to the United States and we hope at the end of the day, that China and Japan will be able to work together for a more peaceful, stable Asia. And that's something that we are going to continue to hope will be the result of their interaction.

QUESTION: Nori Onishi, New York Times. The United States, for a number of years, has been encouraging Japan to become a so-called normal country - to have a political stature commensurate with its economic might. And in the last couple of years, Japan has taken quite significant steps towards that - for example sending troops to Iraq or joining the American-led missile defense shield. In your opinion, sir, what would be the next significant step? For example, Colin Powell over the summer mentioned that repeal of Article 9 might be necessary for Japan joining as a member of the U.N. Security Council.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: What Japan does with Article 9 is basically up to Japan. That's not for the United States to say what Japan ought to do with Article 9. Having said that, the United States appreciates and encourages the greater participation that Japan is taking in all aspects of the international community. We think that Japan speaking with a louder voice in the world will actually increase the chances for peace and stability in the larger international community, but in the region specifically. And I think that it is a great opportunity to have the chance to be the American Ambassador to Japan right now because so many dynamic issues are involved, and so many opportunities are going to present themselves in which Japan and the United States can speak together to the great issues of the day. And I think that's why I look upon this as such a great opportunity and why I'm looking forward to serving here with such anticipation.

QUESTION: Mitsuru Obe of Jiji Press. There is suspicion in this country that the Chinese government is somehow, or in some way, involved in the recent violent anti-Japanese demonstrations, and China of course denies it. So what's your view about the situation, and also what does the incident, do you think, suggest about the country's future?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Well, hopefully that's not the case, and I think that ... I have no specific knowledge one way or the other on that, but I don't think anybody would wish that that were the case, that China was somehow fomenting it, and I have seen no indication that that's the case. But I would return to the thought that, at the end of the day, we hope that the Chinese and Japanese can resolve these differences and come to a common understanding of what a peaceful, stable Asia is all about.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Yuka Sato from TBS. Just to clarify what you said about beef: Do you mean to say that your position and also the position of the U.S. government is to say that the general concern shown by the Japanese general public over the safety of beef, and food in general, is totally emotional and not based on scientific grounds at all?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't think that I wanted to say that it is totally emotional, but there has been a good bit of emotion in it. And what we would like to say is, at the end of the day, let's depend on science. Let's try to divorce the emotion from the science, and if we do that, I think we'll reach a resolution on the issue. I think that's what both sides would like to have.

QUESTION: Kimiko Aoki from NHK, Japan Broadcasting. Mr. Ambassador, you said, about the U.N. reform, that Japan has to be on the Security Council if the reform were to be meaningful. Now, does that mean that you, the U.S. and also you, are of the opinion that the whole reform should be a package, as recommended by the Secretary General Kofi Annan? And also, when do you see the deadline? How pressing do you see the reform? When should it be done by? Would it be achieved by this September?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Two parts: I think that setting up an artificial deadline is probably not helpful to the process. I think that this is so complicated - it has so many different moving parts to it, that we have to recognize that, and that we will do damage to the process if we say it has to be done by such-and-such date. Having said that, I think that our position is basically the same, and that is that Japan deserves to have a seat on the Security Council. And we think that if you're going to have reform that enhances the ability of the United Nations to react to international events, that you're going to have to have Japan as a player and as a participant on the Security Council. Now how that all sorts itself out is what we're trying to work through. The issue is not just whether Japan will join the Security Council, but what will happen beyond that, and those are the things that I think we have to be careful that we don't try to force by setting up some artificial deadline that will doom it to failure, and that's what I think that we're concerned about.

QUESTION: But do you agree that it should be a package reform?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think that's probably for others to determine, on what our position would be at the end of the day. But we're in the process of discussion; that's a good thing. We have stated flatly that Japan ought to be part of the Security Council and, beyond that, I think we have to let the negotiations take their course.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. My name is Kamal Gaballa. I am Al-Ahram correspondent in Tokyo - Al-Ahram of Egypt. My question is: I am just arriving back from China; I was there in Shanghai in the last days. There are reports published there in China saying that the United States is sitting behind the difficulties which are facing the bilateral relationship between Japan and China nowadays. I need to hear your comment. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I'm not sure that I understand fully what you are asking. You're saying that the United States is somehow encouraging the Chinese public to demonstrate against the Japanese? QUESTION: No, Sir. It's the difficulties which are facing now the bilateral relation between China and Japan. They are saying - the reports say - that the United States is sitting behind that. I don't mean that the United States is encouraging the demonstrations against Japan, but I think the United States - they are saying - the United States is encouraging the Japanese government to do some politics, which means encouraging them to be facing with the Chinese public there. That's what I mean. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: Sometimes being a diplomat for the United States is somewhat frustrating, in that all problems someone thinks are as a result of the United States doing something or not doing something. I don't think that's the case. I think that there are a lot of problems in the world, and they can result from a lot of different things - independently of what the United States does or does not do. But the United States does not want there to be tension between China and Japan. That's just something that we wouldn't want to happen. We want to have an Asia in which everyone gets along, and an Asia in which democracy and the values that Japan and the United States have embraced will be allowed to work their magic. We don't want there to be a dispute or tension between China and Japan. That's just not the case.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, Dan Sloan from Reuters. Sir, some of your predecessors have called this bilateral relationship "the most important for the United States, bar none." Recognizing that you're coming from Australia and also had to tout the importance of relationships there, what do you see as the most pressing issue between Japan and the United States for improvement - be it that the status quo is not acceptable to the United States?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: This is an extraordinarily important relationship, and I am very familiar with Senator Mansfield's comments about that in the past, and I think they were very insightful. I come to this process feeling that we are in a new era. I think this is the most formative period in international relations since the end of World War II, and I think historians will look back on September 11th and they will say it was a terrible day, but I think they will also say that was basically the bookend of eras. It was the end of the postwar, Cold War era, and it was the beginning of some new era, and I think that we are going to go through a period of time here in which we are trying to figure out what the rules of engagement between various parties are, so that we begin to understand how to react to one another in this new environment. And I think, again, this is a reason why it's an exciting time to be here, to be a part in that. And we're not going to get it right every time. We're going to make mistakes, but by and large we got it right in the postwar era and the Cold War era, and we need to get it right in this new era, and hopefully if we get it right, then people won't call this the age of terrorism, but will call it the age of democracy and freedom. And that's what I think my main mandate is while I'm here, is to try to make that happen.

QUESTION: Just to follow up then: The most pressing issue, then, would be the security and defense relationship between the nations, or something else?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I wouldn't want to circumscribe that in that way. The importance of the relationship is the comprehensive relationship. And we can do a great deal together, whether it's with tsunami relief or trying to carry out the mandate that we see in the world of trying to make a safer world, and that could be a world in which security is taken care of, but it's also a world in which economies can flourish and wealth can be created and prosperity can be spread around the world. I think those are issues in which Japan and the United States have a largely common agenda, and I think the more that we express that agenda together around the world, the better the chance of success that we'll have.

QUESTION: My name is Kazu Akashi from Jiji Japan. Mr. Ambassador, you mentioned the importance of stability in Asia. I'd like to know your opinion about the anti-secession law, which the Chinese congress passed recently. The anti-secession law against Taiwan.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: We felt that the anti-secession law that was passed was not helpful and could be quite troubling as a result. We have expressed the view, both to China and to Taiwan, that the issues between them should be resolved peacefully, and we have said that we would be opposed to any - either side - doing something that might be provocative to the other that would cause the dispute to go off into some sort of military conflict. We oppose that sort of thing, and the anti-secession law was one that I think was not helpful to the process, but hopefully we'll be able to get the two sides to adjust to that, and that it will not be provocative in the end.

QUESTION: Jiji again. Let me just follow up on my own previous question: The root cause of trouble between Japan and China is seen as an issue of history. Now what do you think of Japan's handling of its own history and also about the Japanese prime minister visiting the Yasukuni Shrine every year?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: History is important, and the accurate portrayal of history is important, but I don't think that it's up to the United States to tell Japan or China, or other people in the world, how their history ought to be portrayed. That's a matter for the Japanese. But I think it is important to remember that history can be a great teacher and can be a great help to all of us in the future.

QUESTION: Takashi Koyama, freelance journalist. I know that you concluded the FTA while you were ambassador to Australia. Do you have any similar plans while you are staying here?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: The matter of an FTA in Australia was an important issue for me when I was there, and once the two governments decided that they really wanted to go down this path, we made an incredibly quick negotiation out of it, and I think we were able to conclude it, and it was very beneficial to both governments. I'm not sure that we're at the same point here in Japan, with regard to being able to move that quickly on an FTA, but the more that we can work together - the more that we can solve trade irritants or things that get in the way of greater economic cooperation, the better we are. And hopefully the day will come when we could fully integrate our two economies in some way. How that would happen, I don't know. When that would happen, I don't know. But I think it would be beneficial to the United States and to Japan to work together toward integrating our two economies as best we can, and hopefully we'll do that while I am here as ambassador.

QUESTION: Miles Edelsten, APTN. There's been a dispute about Japan saying it wants to commence drilling in the ... I believe the East China Sea, and there's been words from the Chinese authorities saying they would send warships if China (sic) commenced drilling in the East China Sea. Do you have any opinions on this issue and have you discussed with the Japanese government about this issue? Have you had talks with them about it?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: We haven't had talks specifically about it, but I do read in the press that Prime Minister Koizumi thinks that some sort of negotiation could be possible on this issue and I hope that it can be. These are the sorts of disputes that can be resolved at the table of diplomacy and, hopefully, they will be. Because no one wants this kind of issue to be a source of conflict between two great nations like Japan and China.

QUESTION: Natalie Pearson from the Associated Press. I'd like to get back to regional stability in Asia and getting beyond China for a little bit. Tensions between Tokyo and Seoul have also flared in recent weeks over some disputed territories. Many of the tensions in the region appear to be related to the increasingly prominent military posture that Japan's taking, and also the joint missile shield that's being discussed between the US and Japan seems to have alarmed some of Japan's neighbors. Would you comment briefly on how you view this perceived threat that Japan seems to pose to some of its neighbors in the region?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't know that Japan's neighbors perceive it as a threat. I think what they recognize is that it's different than it has been in the recent past. Hopefully, we'll go through this period and people will be able to, on both sides, be able to realize that Japan does not pose a threat to them on an individual basis. That, I think, if there is some way that we can help in that process, I hope that we will be helpful on that. But Japanese-Chinese relations, Japanese-Korean relations, are matters for those parties to work out. We can be helpful, we can be friendly, but at the end of the day, those parties have got to resolve what their relationships are going to be. We can't dictate, and certainly would not attempt to dictate how those matters should be resolved. Those are matters for those countries to resolve.

MODERATOR: Aoki-san, one more, sure.

QUESTION: I have another question about the six-party-talks, if I may?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: You don't want to ask me about baseball?

QUESTION: I was thinking, but if I'm allowed to ask many questions ...

MODERATOR: If your follow-up has to do with baseball, I think we'll let it go.

QUESTION: First question then, about the six-party-talks. Do you see any move coming in the near future and, if not, how long is the United States prepared to wait?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I don't want to get into how long that we're prepared to wait. I think that we are entering a time when we need to start getting some progress on the six-party-talks. We had an election in the United States. We have a new Secretary of State in the United States. All of those issues may have been used by others as an excuse not to talk, an excuse not to make substantive progress, that's all past. We now have a team in place, the election's over with, and I think that we are able to focus now on the fact that five of the six parties have come to the conclusion that nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula is not in the interest of this region. And really, not in the interest of North Korea. Now the North Koreans have got to come to that same conclusion, but I think that the more that the five speak with one voice, the better our chance that they will come to that conclusion. And when they do, we'll get a peaceful resolution of a very difficult problem.

QUESTION: And so, the follow-up question. Since you come from Texas, I wanted to know how Japan is viewed in America, not like New York, but middle America - Texas. What kind of new Japan would you want to bring to the United States and build new bridges?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think that Japan is viewed very favorably in the United States. The Japanese are respected. They are people whose culture is thousands of years old, who have a rich cultural contribution to make to the world. I think that we recognize that. And I think we recognize, whether we live in Texas, Chicago, San Francisco or New York, that together, Japan and the United States can be a force for good in the world. These are dangerous times that we live in, but the more that we act together, the more that we try to promote the kind of values that have worked for us. They are not American values, they are universal values of democracy and free speech and a free press and freedom of religion. When we promote those kinds of things and tolerance and the rule of law, then great things happen. And I think that our two cultures and our two peoples have embraced those values. And the fact that we have, gives American great comfort that we are not alone in the world and we want the Japanese to know that you are not alone in the world. These, I believe, are the values that are in the ascendancy and we can, as I said, do great things together.

MODERATOR: Your follow-up?

QUESTION: Sir, you are well known to have a very close and strong tie with President Bush. But you don't have too much, if I understand correctly, you don't have too much background on Japan-U.S. affairs. I was wondering why the President chose you and what did he want you to accomplish?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I think you have to ask the President that first, but when the President talked to me about coming to Japan, I raised that very issue with him. I said to him that when I look who has been ambassador here before, I see Senator Mansfield, I see Vice-President Mondale, I see Speaker Foley, I see Senator Baker, all of whom have these long, distinguished careers in public service and at the forefront of public service in the United States. I don't have that. His reply to me was he understood that, but he thought that I understood him and understood where he was going and where he wanted this relationship to go. And what he emphasized to me was the special relationship between the United States and Japan, and the special friendship that he has developed with Prime Minister Koizumi. What he said to me was, I want someone in Tokyo that I know and that knows me. I don't want this to sound wrong, but he then asked me to be that person. And I was very humbled by the request because of the esteemed nature of the people that have preceded me. But all I can do is work as hard as I can to redeem the President's confidence in me, and that's what I intend to do.

QUESTION: My name is Iwamoto, I'm staff writer of Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei. So I'd like to ask you an ASEAN issue, East Asian countries. So today, many journalists is focusing on the China issue but I would to move into this ASEAN issue. So ASEAN countries have a plan for a first summit in Malaysia at the end of this year. So if some countries, including Japan, were to invite the United States to this historical meeting, US has the intention to attend this meeting? Could you corroborate on that point?

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: I'm not sure I fully understand what your question is. Does it have to do with the East Asia Summit? Is that what you are saying? The United States would welcome the opportunity to participate in the East Asia Summit, but we have not requested that. We think that what goes on in Asia is important to the United States, and we think it is important to the region to have broad participation by all the countries of Asia. But I think it's always good to remind our friends in Asia that we are a Pacific nation. Our eyes are turned toward Asia just as we are an Atlantic nation and the more, I think, that we can convey the message that we want to be here, we want to participate in what's going on here, so that there will be less opportunity for miscalculation on both sides of the Pacific. The more that we can participate, the more that we can be a part of it, I think the better the chance of having peace in the region.

MODERATOR: Shall we take one more, Mr. Ambassador?


QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, I'm Joel Legendre, from RTL France - it's a broadcasting station. My question is about the dialogue between US and China that should start soon. Could you introduce us to some of your views of this dialogue and what sort of dialogue we shall have? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR SCHIEFFER: The U.S. Ambassador to China is probably the first person that you ought to ask that question to. But in a broad sense, China is emerging as a world power and we welcome that. And we want to be sure that we understand exactly what China is trying to do, and by the same token, we want the Chinese to understand how we think we fit into the world. So the more that we talk together, the more that we explore options together, the better the chance of understanding. And that's what we're pointed toward and that's what we hope to accomplish.

Thank you very much, I've enjoyed being with you and I look forward to meeting again. Thanks.

MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.