Intervention at East Asia Summit

John Kerry

Secretary of State

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

As Prepared for Delivery

I am very pleased to represent, for the first time as Secretary of State, the United States at this East Asia Summit Ministerial. Allow me to express my appreciation to His Majesty, the Sultan, and the entire nation of Brunei for their warm hospitality. President Obama looks forward to traveling here in October to attend the EAS Leaders Summit.

The Asia-Pacific region is enjoying an almost unparalleled period of peace, prosperity, and stability.

This region has increasingly become the envy of the rest of the world.

The key to sustaining and advancing this success has been our common efforts to establish norms and institutions that encourage greater cooperation and resolve disputes when they arise – and to do so in a manner that respects the rights of the people. As a Pacific nation, the United States has an enduring interest in maintaining peace and prosperity across this entire region.

The United States firmly believes that regional institutions such as the EAS should play a lead role in shaping the future of the Asia-Pacific. We support the East Asia Summit as the region’s primary institution for political and strategic issues.

The East Asia Summit, like any institution, is most effective when it produces concrete results for the people of the region. So today I’d like to talk about four of the key pressing challenges facing the region today where we need to produce results:

  • onmaritime security, disaster relief,
  • nonproliferation, and our moral responsibility to address climate change.

And though we discussed the South China Sea earlier today, I’d like to restate my concern over the increase over the past year in maritime incidents and tensions in disputed waters.

We all have a vital interest in the peaceful management of maritime disputes, and we believe the EAS can serve a key role in setting and enforcing norms and rules that will ensure we are working collectively to protect the regional peace and stability that our economic future depends on.

American has long been committed to easing the challenges, the personal suffering caused by disasters and to help facilitate recovery. However, effective international coordination is vital when natural disasters strike. Promoting the exchange of expertise and removing barriers to the deployment of supplies and first responders saves lives. That calls for coordinated mechanisms to ensure that this goodwill can be translated quickly into practical assistance on the ground.

Third, let me say a word about non-proliferation. As President Obama reaffirmed last month in Berlin, peace with justice means pursuing the security of a world without nuclear weapons. The United States remains committed to that goal, and will work with our partners to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. We will also work toward a new international framework for peaceful nuclear power, and work to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

In no uncertain terms, we also reject North Korea’s and Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and will work to enforce the international nonproliferation system.

We recognize that many of you are making very serious efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote peaceful use of nuclear energy, and we hope that all EAS members will fully embrace the available tools in the fight against proliferation – including endorsing PSI principles and bringing into force the Additional Protocol to your IAEA Safeguards Agreement.

Finally, I’d like to talk about an issue close to my heart and close to President Obama’s heart: our obligation to address the inseparable challenges of meeting our energy needs and meeting our responsibility to the generations that will follow us.

As I said in Beijing in April and in New Delhi last week – and as the President said in Washington last week – the devastating effects of climate change are no longer far-off predictions. They are all around us. They threaten us with widespread water and food shortages, historic heat waves, prolonged droughts, more intense flooding. And this is not just about air and water and weather – it is about jobs and opportunity.

So let me make clear that the United States is strongly committed to working with the people of the Asia-Pacific region to adapt to and mitigate the impact of climate change.

For example, the United States is investing more than $60 million annually to support programs across the Asia Pacific that combat climate change, including in Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.

This crisis also calls on us to find better ways of sustainably managing our shared marine resources. The livelihoods of billions of people depend on them.

We meet here today in the coral triangle, literally the center of global marine biodiversity, and the basis for some of the planet’s richest marine fisheries. Brunei recognizes the challenges posed by threats to marine conservation, and has recently banned all shark fishing within its waters. The United States welcomes Brunei’s commitment to conservation, particularly its proposed EAS study on enhancing sustainable fisheries management and marine environmental conservation.

The United States would be pleased to assist this effort and would welcome a future focus on marine conservation by the EAS.

The challenge of energy security is directly related to the challenge of climate change.

Since the launch at the last EAS of the U.S.-Asia-Pacific Comprehensive Energy Partnership, the United States initiated, in partnership with Brunei, a renewable-power generation work stream, co-hosted with Indonesia a regional conference on the changing global gas market, and we are working to partner with the private sector in solving these pressing challenges.

Once again, I thank His Majesty the Sultan and the entire nation of Brunei for their warm hospitality in hosting this important meeting today.

We are clear-eyed regarding the challenges before us – both those that come from nature and those that come from man. But we are also confident that the solutions lie within our grasp. These are not problems of capacity, but tests of political will. With the cooperation of our EAS partners, I believe we can answer the call, do what is required of us and what is right, and together, we can succeed. Thank you.