Cheney Hails Security Alliances with Japan, Australia
USINFO Special Correspondent
Washington – On visits to Japan and Australia February 21-25, Vice President Cheney declared that the close alliance the United States has with both nations has enhanced international peace and security through a shared commitment to the global war on terrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, individual freedom, and economic prosperity.
The vice president reaffirmed the unwavering U.S. commitment to the security of Japan and Australia, as well as to working cooperatively on regional and global issues of mutual concern. Cheney paid special tribute to the deployment of Australian troops in Iraq, and to the ongoing reconstruction efforts of Japan in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
JAPAN AND AUSTRALIA
At a press conference in Tokyo with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 21, Cheney specifically cited Japan's contribution to the six-party agreement to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program that may eventually lead to a normalization of relations in the region. (See related article.)
He also stressed U.S.-Japanese cooperation in the war against terrorism and on human rights issues, including the case of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.
Speaking in Sydney, Australia, February 23, Cheney said, "America is proud to count Australia as a skilled and a decisive ally. ... When Americans think of Australia, we think of a place with a pioneering spirit much like our own. We think of a country that shares our founding commitments to liberty and to equality, and to our traditions of justice and tolerance."
The U.S.-Australian alliance has strengthened over the years, according to Cheney, as both countries have conducted relief efforts from famine and natural disasters, lowered trade barriers, worked for regional and international security, and promoted democracy and good governance.
"Rarely have the challenges been so numerous," Cheney said, "and yet never before has our alliance been stronger."
In a February 23 address to the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue, Cheney said, "As leading democracies, Australia and the United States feel a deep sense of responsibility for security and peace in our world. The cooperation between our governments has risen to a new level, with stronger ties of defense and counterterrorism, and much broader cooperation on intelligence and information sharing."
The war on terrorism is more a test of ideas and wills than of combat, Cheney warned. "By taking the side of moderates, reformers, and advocates for democracy; by providing an alternative to hateful ideologies; we improve the chances for a lasting peace, and we advance our own security interests."
In an interview with ABC News February 21, Cheney said, "The al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people – in fact, knowing they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home, and then they win because we quit."
Terrorist attacks are not caused by demonstrations of strength, but the perception of weakness, according to Cheney in remarks aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, February 21.
"The terrorists also know that as freedom takes hold, the ideologies of hatred and resentment will lose their appeal," Cheney said on the aircraft carrier, "and the advance of liberty and self government in the broader Middle East will lead to a much safer world for our children and our grandchildren."
IRAN AND IRAQ
In response to a question about Iran at a Sydney press conference February 24, Cheney stressed that the United States continues to work through the United Nations and the European Community to end Iran's pursuit "of nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment." (See related article.)
The United States wants to resolve the matter peacefully, Cheney told reporters. "That's still our preference," he said, "[b]ut I've also made the point and the President has made the point that all options are still on the table."
Cheney defended U.S. policy in Iraq in a February 23 interview with the Australian newspaper, saying it will be judged "a remarkable achievement" when viewed from a long-term perspective. "I think given the scale of change that we're attempting here, that the fact that we're not finished yet shouldn't be all that surprising to anybody," he said.
NORTH KOREA AND CHINA
In Australia, Cheney described the six-party agreement as bringing the world closer to a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons as well as "a first hopeful step towards a better future for the North Korean people."
The international community, however, must approach this agreement cautiously, Cheney warned, especially when seen in the context of North Korea's nuclear test in October 2006, its record on ballistic missile proliferations, and human rights abuses.
Cheney pointed to the key role played by China in reaching the agreement. "We hope China will join us in our efforts to prevent the deployment and the proliferation of deadly technologies, whether in Asia or in the Middle East." (See related article.)
A transcript of Vice President Cheney's remarks at the Sydney press conference, as well as a transcript of his remarks to the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue and a transcript of his interview with the Australian newspaper can be found on the White House Web site.