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U.S. Secretary of State to visit six countries


11:04, August 29, 2012

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will start a 10-day foreign travel on Thursday that will take her to the Cook Islands, Indonesia, China, Timor-Leste, Brunei and Russia, the State Department said on Tuesday.

While in the Cook Islands, the top U.S. envoy will attend the Pacific Islands Forum Post Forum Dialogue on Friday, a move the department called "part of our intensive engagement and ongoing collaboration with the Pacific Islands."

"Her visit will emphasize the depth and breadth of American engagement across economic, people to people, strategic, environmental and security interests," the agency said in a statement, noting "The visit also represents a concerted effort to strengthen regional multilateral institutions, develop bilateral partnerships and build on alliances -- three core elements of U.S. strategy toward the Asia-Pacific."

The agency said Clinton will lead an interagency delegation comprising senior officials from the departments of State, Defense and the Interior, the highest-level U.S. delegation ever to appear at the forum in its 41-year history.

The forum, known until Oct. 27, 2000 as the South Pacific Forum, is a key political and economic policy organization in the Pacific. Forum leaders meet annually to develop collective responses to regional issues.

The forum's membership has increased from the original seven founding members -- Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa, to include Micronesia, Kiribati, Niue, Marshall Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Fiji was suspended from the forum in May 2009 due to its failure to meet the deadline of announcing a general election date.

During her stay in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, on Sept. 3, Clinton will discuss with senior Indonesian officials the U.S.- Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership and the two countries' " respective engagements on regional global issues," the State Department said.

In Beijing on Sept. 4-5, her discussions with senior Chinese leaders "are expected to cover a wide range of issues of importance in the U.S.-China relationship as part of our efforts to build a cooperative partnership, including preparations for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and other upcoming multilateral meetings and numerous bilateral, regional and global issues," the agency said.

Clinton's travel to Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, will be the first ever by a U.S. secretary of state to the second youngest country in the world established on May 20, 2002, and she will emphasize U.S. support of the country in her meetings with senior officials.

In Brunei, the secretary will stress the importance of the " increasingly vibrant" U.S.-Brunei relationship and discuss Brunei' s 2013 chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the State Department said.

During her stay in Russia's Far Eastern city of Vladivostok, her final stop of the upcoming trip, Clinton will lead the U.S. delegation to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting slated for Sept. 8-9.

She will discuss trade liberalization, food security and green growth including initiatives to fight wildlife trafficking in her meetings with heads of state and other regional leaders, the department said.

She will also meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and others to "engage on many areas of bilateral cooperation with Russia," the agency added.

U.S. President Barack Obama has announced his absence from the annual gathering of APEC leaders scheduled for September.

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