U.S. remains committed to Asia-Pacific region despite North Korean threats

The U.S. will continue its diplomatic, developmental and economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of fiscal challenges and North Korean threats, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

Joseph Yun, the acting assistant secretary for the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, testified in Washington before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Yun said the U.S. policy toward the Asia-Pacific region demonstrates the recognition that future prosperity and security of the U.S. depends on events and developments in the region.

Yun said that recent challenges, including threats made by North Korea, demonstrate a need for more than just military engagement.

"As our response to recent events in North Korea demonstrates, and as Secretary Kerry emphasized on his recent trip to Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul, there is no doubt about U.S. military resolve in the region when it comes to threatening behavior," Yun said. "Indeed, our allies and partners continue to tell us that our clear and visible military presence is reassuring to them and contributes to the stability of the region. But what they also tell us is that, as we deepen our military engagement, we should continue also to emphasize the diplomatic, development, economic, and people-to-people engagement in order to demonstrate our longer-term commitment to our rebalance strategy."

While there some are concerned about the ability of the U.S. to sustain high levels of engagement in the current fiscal climate, Yun said the U.S. commitment remains strong and enduring.

"To date we have demonstrated our commitment through intensive engagement at every level, including interacting with our regional partners at the highest levels," Yun said. "Last year, that high-level engagement included 35 bilateral meetings, six trilateral meetings, 32 multilateral meetings, and numerous strategic dialogues. The result of these engagements was progress on trade agreements, closer coordination on law enforcement and counter-terrorism initiatives, and advancing anti-human trafficking measures, and other efforts to advance good governance, democracy and human rights in the region."

Yun said the U.S. will continue to make progress with the Asia-Pacific region in 2013 and beyond through concurrent improvements in security, economic growth, coordination on transnational issues, people-to-people ties and democratic development.