MR. RHODES:Â Thanks, everybody, for joining today.Â With me is Jeff Bader, Senior Director for Asia here at the NSC, who you know well; and Denis McDonough, Chief of Staff for the NSC, as well.
I'll just give a kind of brief outline of the trip and walk you through the schedule and then turn it over to Jeff, and then we can answer your questions.
First and foremost Iâ€™d just say that this trip to Indonesia and Australia is an important opportunity to advance America's security and economic interests in a very vital part of the world.Â The Asia-Pacific region is of growing importance to our interests.Â And as the President said on his trip there last fall, in many ways America has been somewhat absent from the region over the last several years and we are committed to reestablishing that leadership in advance of our interests.
The Asia Pacific is fundamental to our ability to achieve some of our top priorities, whether itâ€™s doubling exports and achieving balanced and sustainable growth or fighting terrorism and combating climate change.Â In that effort, Indonesia and Australia are both essential partners to the United States.
I'll just start with Indonesia.Â Of course, within Indonesia you see the convergence of many issues that are of common interest to both of our nations.Â Indonesia is of course the third largest democracy in the world, has the worldâ€™s largest Muslim majority population.Â And itâ€™s also playing an increasingly important role in the international effort, such as the G20 and the effort against climate change.
They also have been a very effective partner when it comes to security issues such as fighting terrorism, as well as the President's broader efforts to advance relations with the Muslim world.Â And theyâ€™re also, of course, important economic partners, an emerging economy to the United States as well.
So we want to underscore with this trip that the deepening and comprehensive partnership that weâ€™re developing with Indonesia in the region and the world, and as well highlight Indonesiaâ€™s positive example to -- as a strong democracy, a developing economy and a committed partner on a range of issues.
So with that I'll just take you through the schedule that we currently have.Â This obviously had to be adjusted as weâ€™ve moved back the beginning portions of the trip, which you're well aware of.Â But I'll go through what we currently have slotted.
The first stop on the trip for the President is in Guam.Â Weâ€™ll be in Guam Monday, March 22.Â And that evening, Guam time, the President will be hosting a public event where heâ€™ll be able to speak to both our -- the community in Guam and of course some of the military personnel that the United States has in Guam.Â Later in the call Dennis can field questions about this portion of the trip.
The next day, on Tuesday, the 23rd, weâ€™ll be making our way to Indonesia.Â The President will be greeted with an arrival ceremony and there will be several events associated with that arrival ceremony, which weâ€™ll be giving you more specifics on as we get closer to the day.Â But that first day heâ€™ll have a bilateral meeting with the President of Indonesia.Â And following that bilateral meeting theyâ€™ll host a joint press conference.Â Then that night the President will be hosted at a state dinner by the Indonesians, which he very much looks forward to.
The following day, Wednesday, the 24th, the President will be giving a speech.Â This speech, of course, will be an opportunity for him to discuss the comprehensive partnership that weâ€™re developing with Indonesia and with the Indonesian people.Â Of course this is a country that the President has personal experience in, having lived there for four years as a child; having a sister whoâ€™s half Indonesian; and his mother of course worked extensively in Indonesia for 20 years.Â So heâ€™ll be able to speak to his connections to the country.
And heâ€™ll also be able to discuss the efforts that the United States cooperates with Indonesia on as it relates to democracy and as it relates to Indonesiaâ€™s position as a country with the worldâ€™s largest Muslim-majority population, as well as a country with a strong history of pluralism.Â And in some respects it will be of course his first trip to a Muslim-majority country since he was in Egypt and delivered his speech in Cairo, so heâ€™ll be able to speak to some of the progress thatâ€™s been made and that needs to be made on the issue that he spoke to in Cairo, as well.
The rest of that day -- we look forward to making some additional cultural stops as well as the President will be meeting with some business leaders in the region to highlight again Americaâ€™s growing economic ties with Indonesia.Â We believe that this can be an economic relationship that can serve our mutual interests and will be part of, of course, the Presidentâ€™s efforts to deepen our economic relationship across the region.
Heâ€™ll also be meeting with Indonesian parliamentary leaders as a part of his effort to, again, reach out and speak to a broad cross-section of Indonesiaâ€™s government and society.
Then weâ€™ll be moving on to Bali.Â And on Thursday, March 25th, the President will host a civil society event in Bali.Â The reason that weâ€™re choosing Bali to highlight this particular issue is that Bali is host to the Bali Democracy Forum, which is a signature initiative of the President of Indonesiaâ€™s and a very positive effort, again, to advance democracy and civil society in the region and around the world.
So President Obama will have an opportunity in Bali to meet with a group of civil society leaders in order to highlight the important role of civil society in the emergence of Indonesiaâ€™s democracy, and also how that might -- that effort might support civil society across the region.Â And to that end, weâ€™ll be inviting civil society groups from other parts of Southeast Asia as well to discuss issues related to political participation, freedom of information, and human rights, broadly speaking.
After the President is in Bali, we will move on to Canberra.Â And here Iâ€™d just stop and say that, of course, Australia is increasingly -- is a longstanding ally of the United States, an increasingly important ally in both the region and the world.Â In many ways itâ€™s a model alliance for the United States.Â We have very robust cooperation with the Australians on security issues, economic issues, environmental issues.Â Theyâ€™re obviously a close partner of us in Afghanistan, where theyâ€™ve been steadfast in their support there.Â We run a very positive trade relationship with Australia that supports American jobs and supports economic prosperity for both Australians and Americans.Â And of course, weâ€™ve cooperated closely on clean energy issues and efforts to combat climate change, Australia also being a partner through the G20.Â And the President will be underscoring this alliance throughout his time in Australia.
Heâ€™ll begin that night with a dinner with Prime Minister Rudd, whoâ€™s been a particularly close partner of the Presidentâ€™s both bilaterally on a personal basis, and also in international forums.Â So the President is looking forward to the opportunity to share this time with Prime Minister Rudd in Canberra.
The next day, on Friday the 26th, we will have a very robust program of events.Â The President will meet with the Governor General in the morning.Â Then he will have a series of -- heâ€™ll have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Rudd, building on the work, the discussions theyâ€™ll have at dinner.Â Following that bilateral meeting, we anticipate a joint press conference.
Then, as I think some of you know, the Australians have been generous enough to invite the President to address a session of the Australian parliament.Â So the President will address the parliament and heâ€™ll speak to the depth of our alliance with Australia, the 70th anniversary of that alliance, and discuss several areas in which we can deepen our partnership in security, economic and environmental issues.
After addressing the parliament, he will have the opportunity to participate in some other events to mark, again, the historic landmark of this being the anniversary of the alliance and the cooperation that we share before departing that night to return to the United States.
So we have a very busy five days in the Asia-Pacific region.Â And again, Iâ€™ll just turn it over to Jeff now who can speak a little bit to the importance of the region to the United States and how Indonesia and Australia in particular are key and emerging partners for the United States on many of our top priority issues.Â So, Jeff, Iâ€™ll just hand it over to you.
MR. BADER:Â Thanks, Ben.Â Ben covered the ground fairly thoroughly.Â Iâ€™ll just add a few points.Â First of all, as Ben noted, this trip is designed to highlight the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the U.S.Â The members of APEC, to which Australia and Indonesia both belong, are responsible for 55 percent of global GDP and 50 percent of global trade.Â And this will be the first time in at least 10 years that a President has gone to the Asia Pacific for a trip other than an APEC meeting, except for President Bushâ€™s trip in 2008 for the Beijing Olympics.
This is a part of the world thatâ€™s marked by a number of rising powers, namely China and India; a number of existing powers, Japan and South Korea; and some emerging important countries and powers like Vietnam and Indonesia.
In the context of a region that is evolving in this fashion, where there are shifts of power and influence, the U.S. presence is a crucial stabilizing force.Â It is welcomed by pretty much everyone in the region.Â And itâ€™s important for -- and thatâ€™s why the President is reaching out to one of our most important allies and one of our most important partners in the region, Australia and Indonesia.
The second point I'll highlight, which Ben also touched on, is that this trip highlights the changing global governance that we face in the world in the 21st century.Â When we were in Copenhagen, we saw the decisive meeting at the end of the conference.Â The players in the room were China, India, South Africa, Brazil and the United States.Â This is something that wouldnâ€™t have happened -- would not have happened 20 years ago.Â And this is a -- this is a sign of the change that has occurred in the number of countries that are participating in major global decisions.
In that context there are a number of important middle powers -- middle powers, countries like Australia and Indonesia -- who are significant players on these kinds of decisions.Â The G20, which is the emerging economic governance instrument -- major economic emerging governance instrument -- Australia and Indonesia are both important players in this body.
Australia has, for quite some time, Iâ€™d say punched above its weight.Â Indonesia was held back for years by poverty, by governance issues, by corruption, and it is now, in the last few years, emerging and beginning to perform in the fashion that a power of that rank deserves.
Just a few words specifically on Australia and Indonesia.Â Australia has been mentioned as an ally.Â We have a special relationship with them.Â Theyâ€™ve fought in all wars with us.Â Australia has lost something like 100,000 people -- 100,000 lives in wars since the First World War, which is a quite extraordinary number for a country of that size.Â They have more troops in Afghanistan than any other non-NATO country -- 1,500.Â And Prime Minister Rudd stepped up to the plate after the President -- after the President spoke to him and increased the Australian component by upwards of 40 percent.
They are a major global partner on climate change, in the G20, on terrorism, on non-proliferation, on clean energy.
Indonesia, as Ben mentioned, a number of interests.Â Third-largest democracy in the world.Â For 12 years theyâ€™ve been a stable and impressive democracy with a history -- with a modern history of tolerance after tough times in the 1960s.Â Protection of human rights has been particularly impressive.Â They are a majority Muslim country, but there are other religious and ethnic groups there.Â Our trip to -- our stop in Bali, Bali is a Hindu -- traditional Hindu religious center.
They are a regional and global player -- key player in ASEAN and G20 member.Â And we will be announcing on this trip a comprehensive partnership with Indonesia, which was President Yudhoyonoâ€™s personal initiative, and that shows just how far the Indonesia -- how far Indonesia has moved since its earlier days of an adversarial relationship with the United States, that President Yudhoyono would feel comfortable proposing a comprehensive partnership with the United States that will cover political security issues, economic issues, and people to people.
MR. RHODES:Â Thanks, Jeff.Â With that, I think weâ€™ll just move to take your questions.
QÂ Â Â Thank you, gentlemen, for taking the time to brief us on this trip.Â Iâ€™m wondering, outside of the comprehensive agreement, are there any deliverables -- concrete documents that you expect to sign or things you expect to bring back?Â And as a quick follow-up, Iâ€™m wondering if Assistant Secretary Campbell is going on this trip, and if not, why not.Â Thank you.
MR. RHODES:Â Just on your first question, Josh, associated with a comprehensive partnership will be I think a series of announcements that speak to specific issues.Â But we will wait until the Presidents have the opportunity to meet to address that.
What I will say is that weâ€™ve been discussing throughout the year an advancement of our partnership with Indonesia on a series of issues that I think are, again, top priorities for both the United States and Indonesia and the region.Â Theyâ€™re a close economic partner through the G20 and weâ€™re looking to deepen our ties in that regard.
As Jeff said as it related to Copenhagen, Indonesia played a -- itâ€™s one of the worldâ€™s largest emitters, but theyâ€™ve also stepped up to the plate and played a very responsible role through the Copenhagen process and other venues on climate and energy.Â And so as weâ€™re looking in order to advance some of the ambitious targets that have been made, weâ€™ll of course have to deepen our partnership with Indonesia and countries like it around the world.Â I think theyâ€™re the fourth-largest emitter.
And then in addition to that, weâ€™re looking to deepen our partnership in a range of areas from education to science and technology and multiple other areas of common interest.
So I think weâ€™ll be filling in the details of the comprehensive partnership that weâ€™re forging with Indonesia.Â I think a key point here is that we will be collaborating with them across a very broad range of issues.Â We of course -- we have had -- they have been a key security partner.Â Youâ€™ve seen them have some very important successes actually this year through their own initiative in taking out leaders, for instance, of Jemaah Islamiyah, the al Qaeda-affiliated group in Indonesia.Â So we enjoy a robust partnership with them in that respect and itâ€™s one that we would like to carry forward.
And again, of course, as the worldâ€™s largest Muslim-majority country and as an emerging democracy, weâ€™re looking to advance in specific areas our partnership to facilitate the Presidentâ€™s efforts to build a new beginning with Muslim communities around the world as well as our ability to highlight democratization and the empowerment of civil society, which is why weâ€™re going to Bali.
I don't know if Jeff wants to add anything on that.
MR. BADER:Â Yes, just one point that I should have mentioned in my earlier comments.Â Weâ€™ll also be highlighting trade and investment with both Indonesia and Australia on the trip.Â This week there will be the first round of negotiations on the trans-Pacific partnership trade agreements in Melbourne, Australia.Â So weâ€™ll be arriving right on the heels of the first round of that.Â The President spoke to his goal of moving rapidly towards agreement among the eight countries in the trans-Pacific partnership.
Indonesia is a country with whom our trade has lagged -- I think itâ€™s something like $23 billion two-way trade.Â There are obstacles to trade.Â We need to do better.Â We need to talk to the Indonesians about how we can make our trade with Indonesia come up to the level that it should be as it is with many of the other ASEAN countries.
MR. RHODES:Â Yes, I'd just echo that last point by saying weâ€™ll -- in both countries I think weâ€™ll be looking to highlight the export potential for the United States, which is of course a part of the Presidentâ€™s commitment to doubling exports.Â We run a positive trade balance with Australia that, again, supports U.S. jobs, and we want to be deepening those partnerships because, as the President has done, has laid out a very aggressive and ambitious export agenda.Â We believe that the Asia-Pacific region, broadly speaking, will be critical to our success in that regard.
On your second question, Josh, I anticipate the Assistant Secretary will be coming on the trip.
QÂ Â Â Thank you very much for taking my call.Â Iâ€™m calling from the National Education Association and we have relations and projects that we share in common with the PGRI education union of Indonesia with its 2.3 million members, as well as with the Australian education union, both of which serve public education.Â Iâ€™m interested in the plans for discussion on education, and also specifically with the Bali Democracy Forum.Â Is there plans to discuss specifically student assessment as well as quality training and professional development for teachers?Â Thank you.
MR. RHODES:Â I appreciate the call and I think thereâ€™s probably more consultation that we can provide through direct contact with you all, but what I will say is -- again, I donâ€™t want to preview announcements, but I do think that we are looking to expand and deepen our educational relationship with Indonesia.Â The President I think believes strongly in the value of international educational exchange as a tool of deepening our engagement in a way that serves our people and people throughout the world.
At the back end of the Cairo speech, for instance, I think he spoke about the value of educational exchanges and other educational programs that have been a key component, really, of American leadership around the world for many decades.Â So I think youâ€™ll see he -- speaking to a deeper educational partnership with Indonesia.
As it relates to the civil society efforts, I believe weâ€™ll be looking at a range of ways that we can empower civil society around the world, quite frankly.Â They play a key role, civil society does, in Indonesia -- a very robust democracy -- a very positive role.Â And civil society is often on the front lines of the effort to advance democracy, to combat corruption, to support the rule of law, to speak out for peopleâ€™s rights.
So weâ€™ll be wanting to explore ways in which the United States can support those efforts, can support the kind of efforts that Indonesia is leading by taking on the Bali Democracy Forum.
So some of your -- the more specific concerns I think we can probably best address directly, but I do think, again, education and civil society will be key parts of the kind of partnership that weâ€™re developing with the Indonesians.
QÂ Â Â Thank you.Â You said the President wants to highlight the fact that the U.S. enjoys a trade surplus with Australia.Â Could you say which areas the President is thinking of in particular, and which sectors would the Obama administration like to see an expansion of trade, in light of the free trade agreement between the two countries?
MR. RHODES:Â Iâ€™ll just say a few words, and then Jeff will I think want to jump in.
I think what heâ€™ll be wanting to highlight is just the fact that itâ€™s a very robust and mutually beneficial trade relationship that, again, speaks to the kind of deepening partnerships that weâ€™d like to have around -- across the region.Â And of course, we believe that that is fundamental to both a healthy and growing American economy and Australian economy.
As it relates to sectors -- Jeff may speak to this -- Iâ€™ll just say, to start off, that clean energy is an area where both I think Prime Minister Rudd and President Obama recognize that there is a growth potential.Â So thatâ€™s a particular area.Â But I think more broadly speaking, whether itâ€™s the trade -- robust trade relationship we have and the efforts weâ€™re exploring through the TPP, weâ€™re looking to frankly build upon the success of the U.S.-Australian relationship, both bilaterally and across the region.
So Jeff, you might want to --
MR. BADER:Â All Iâ€™d add is that the U.S. and Australia both have very open markets, and in that sense --- thatâ€™s what weâ€™re highlighting rather than the fact that the U.S. has a surplus.Â The surplus is a reflection of the wishes of consumers and companies on both sides, not a managed outcome.
As for specific sectors, Australiaâ€™s got great beef, but we want to make sure that there are not obstacles to the import of U.S. beef.Â They also -- the aviation sector is one where the U.S. has found good customers in Australia in the past.Â Those are two that I would particularly mention, in addition to the ones that Ben mentioned.
QÂ Â Â Thank you.Â Which events do you expect the President to be focusing on energy and climate issues?Â And more specifically, do you expect with the address to the Australian parliament he will be focusing on those issues, given the difficulty in passing climate legislation there?
MR. RHODES:Â Sure, Iâ€™ll just begin by saying that I expect that this will be a subject for both of his bilateral meetings on this trip.Â So the bilateral meeting with the President of Indonesia will certainly have a component that focuses on energy and climate issues.Â Similarly, the bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Rudd, Iâ€™d expect this to be an issue that together they address.Â And so to the extent to which the President will be reading out those meetings and following through both his public remarks, press conferences and in speeches, I think this will be a subject that heâ€™ll be addressing throughout the trip.
And again I'd just underscore points that Jeff made, which is that climate -- our climate initiatives, particularly some of the commitments captured at Copenhagen, will demand very broad international cooperation, and it will demand, again, close coordination with countries like Indonesia that are increasingly playing a responsible role in this area, as well as countries like Australia that have deliberately and very productively sought out a positive role in international climate forums.
And we also frankly believe that clean energy holds out great economic potential, and we continue to believe that thereâ€™s great job creation potential and the development of clean energy partnerships with emerging economies like Indonesia and close trading partners like Australia.Â So weâ€™ll be speaking to the economic potential of partnership in this area, as well.
But I don't know if you have much to --
MR. BADER:Â Just a point -- just one point.Â The President of the United States admires Prime Minister Ruddâ€™s leadership on the climate change issue both in the run-up to Copenhagen, in being one of the leaders in coming up with the idea of a â€śpolitical agreement,â€ť which ultimately allowed us to achieve consensus in Copenhagen.Â And heâ€™s also the creator of a carbon capture and storage institute.Â The President was pleased to be present in Italy when the inauguration of this institute was announced and to be a founding member.
QÂ Â Â Hi, thanks.Â Obviously when youâ€™re talking about issues like economics and trade in Asia, the unspoken player apart from the U.S. is China.Â Will the President at any stage of his trip bring up the current tensions with China?Â Do they have an implication for the sort of success of the effort to expand U.S. ties in Asia-Pacific region?Â And can you comment on Premier Wen Jiabaoâ€™s remarks yesterday in which he put the blame for the deterioration of the relationship down to the U.S.?
MR. BADER:Â Well, we have a mature relationship with China.Â There are -- it is steady in its objectives.Â I think that the relationship is in good shape.Â We have a number of areas of difference and weâ€™re talking about them, but I would not describe it as a relationship of tension.
We will be talking about a number of third-country issues on the trip, Iâ€™m sure.Â We will be talking about -- I'm sure weâ€™ll be talking about Afghanistan, Afghanistan/Pakistan.Â We will Iâ€™m sure be talking about Iran.Â Itâ€™s impossible to go to Asia and for the subject of China not to arise.Â So certainly Prime Minister Rudd is deeply knowledgeable on the subject, has much insight.Â So I certainly expect that that is a subject weâ€™ll discuss.
And our perceptions of China are fairly similar to those of Australia.Â We both see Chinaâ€™s emergence as a major economy, a driving economy in the world, as offering great potential to both our countries -- potential for growth, potential for prosperity of our citizens.Â Weâ€™re also looking to reshape the international regulatory systems through the G20 in a way that ensures that new actors, such as China, are acting consistent with international norms.
As for Wen Jiabaoâ€™s comments, he was talking about currency -- I think Iâ€™d leave those to the -- thatâ€™s the Secretary of Treasuryâ€™s domain, so I donâ€™t think Iâ€™ll go there today.
MR. RHODES:Â Yes, the only thing Iâ€™d add to what Jeff said is that this is obviously our second trip to the region; the last time we traveled to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea.Â And again, as Jeff said in his opening comments, we believe that itâ€™s very important that the Asia-Pacific region is fundamental to the economic and security interests of the United States in the 21st century, and that in order to effectively advance those interests, we need to deepen and broaden our engagement and our leadership in the region, which is why weâ€™ve taken a more -- weâ€™ve taken a more aggressive role in engaging groups that APEC and ASEAN, and itâ€™s why we set out to go -- to travel to Indonesia and Australia; to, again, build partnerships that we believe will be fundamental to our ability to deal with our top-priority issues.
And to ours -- to those press like you, Steven, whoâ€™ve followed us through the year, I think one thing you can look to on this trip is we laid down a framework for how we deal with a set of issues last year:Â terrorism, energy and climate, achieving balance and sustainable growth, and of course nuclear proliferation.Â And I think what youâ€™ll see in this trip is that the issues that weâ€™re addressing through these partnerships are very much in line with our broader international priorities.Â So weâ€™ll be discussing our deepening -- our deep counterterrorism cooperation in both stops.Â As Jeff said, Afghanistan -- Australia is a key partner with us in Afghanistan, and again, Indonesia has had some successes in some of the global pressure thatâ€™s been applied to al Qaeda and its affiliates this year.
Weâ€™ll be following up on Copenhagen, building on a momentum that we generated last year, to implement this commitment through our partnerships with countries like Indonesia and Australia.
And weâ€™ll be following up on the balance of sustainable growth agenda that came out of the G20â€™s efforts last year, which was an unprecedented international economic collaboration.Â But itâ€™s going to demand sustained action by major economies in order to ensure that the global recovery is sustained.
So Iâ€™d just highlight that to point out that the President sees China, of course, as a fundamental -- fundamentally important bilateral relationship as it relates to advancing these interests, but he also believes itâ€™s very important to have not just the bedrock of our strong alliances in the world but also developing partnerships with countries like Indonesia as well, which will be fundamental to our ability to advance our mutual interests.
So to that end, we believe that these relationships are absolutely critical.
QÂ Â Â Has there been progress to include the training of Kopassus Special Forces as part of the military component of the comprehensive partnership?
And number two, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has said that itâ€™s disappointed by growing protectionism on the part of Indonesia.Â Will the administration express this disappointment?Â Thank you.
MR. BADER:Â First on Kopassus, as you know, there was a delegation from Kopassus, the counterterrorism -- the Special Forces component of the Indonesian military, in Washington last week.Â They met with administration officials.Â We have a very good cooperation with the Indonesian government on counterterrorism issues.Â It would be good if we could move to full cooperation, fuller cooperation, to include the Special Forces -- the counterterrorism capabilities within the special forces of Kopassus.
There is a certain history that needs to be overcome.Â There were human rights violations in the 1990s in former East Timor.Â We have been talking to the Indonesians and to the Indonesian government and to Kopassus, and we hope to be able, at some point, to move past and resolve those concerns.Â I canâ€™t predict at this point when that -- when that day might arrive, but we have been talking to the Indonesian government about it.
And the second question:Â The President, in his discussions with President Yudhoyono, will, I am fairly confident, talk about the kinds of things that we hope will be done so that our trade relationship can achieve its full potential, including removing the -- moving expeditiously to remove access -- market access barriers that the Chamber of Commerce highlighted that you just mentioned.
QÂ Â Â Steve literally took the words right out of my mouth.Â I appreciate the question, Steve, and I also appreciate the answer.Â Thank you.
MR. McDONOUGH:Â I would just add one thing to Jeffâ€™s comments about Kopassus.Â Obviously as weâ€™ve been in discussions with our Indonesian partners, weâ€™ve also been in close discussions with Congress and consultation with Congress on this matter so that when we are in a position to move forward on it weâ€™re in a position to have a unified posture across the branches of the U.S. government on this important issue.
QÂ Â Â Hi, thanks for the call, guys.Â I think this question is for Denis -- a question on Guam.Â In addition to speaking to the Guam community and service members, what message is trying to be sent to the Pacific region overall and to Japan and China specifically with that?Â Thanks.
MR. McDONOUGH:Â Thanks.Â Well, obviously the Presidentâ€™s decision to visit Guam now demonstrates a commitment to underscore our -- obviously our responsibilities in Guam in the first instance, and underscores a very visible presence of the United States in this vital region, as both Jeff and Ben have outlined.
While there heâ€™ll not only visit with commanders but also with local Guam authorities.Â And heâ€™s going to make sure that we have a very realistic and sustainable and well thought out approach to Guam.Â He has a vision which we refer to here as â€śone Guam, green Guam,â€ť which is apropos of many of the questions heretofore, designed to make sure that weâ€™re investing in capabilities on Guam that are sustainable over the course of time, that are clean energy focused, that do take very concrete steps to reduce the high price of energy on the island, and obviously will lead to an end state thatâ€™s politically, operationally, and environmentally sustainable.
So the President, while there, will also take a hard look at the project and infrastructure needs on Guam.Â Weâ€™ll obviously be looking at base-related construction that must take into accounts the needs of not only of an increased troop presence or Marine presence, but also the needs of the people of Guam, the impact on the environment, and the important role that the United States plays within the region.
So I wouldnâ€™t read a particular set of -- just to respond to the last part of your question -- I wouldnâ€™t read a specific or even general message to Japan or to China into the stop; Iâ€™d rather just make clear that we have a commitment to the people of Guam, and that as part of our ongoing plan for our presence in the region, are going to make very common-sense and important investments in the infrastructure there.
QÂ Â Â Question for both Jeff and Denis, if I could indulge you.Â Obviously we all understand the mantra about Treasury and currency -- no argument there.Â But surely the President himself has raised the fundamental issues often enough, and the events over the last few days certainly seem to indicate that the currency issue is becoming a fundamental relationship management problem.Â And Iâ€™m wondering if this issue will be on the discussion agenda with Prime Minister Rudd.Â Is it perhaps too soon to be talking about coordinated action or coordinated reaction?Â I think weâ€™re all interested to know, arenâ€™t we moving past the point where itâ€™s just a Treasury management issue?Â Thanks.
MR. BADER:Â You thought I was kidding when I said this was an answer for Secretary Geithner.Â I wasnâ€™t.
MR. McDONOUGH:Â Let me vigorously agree with Jeff; reference of the question to the Department of Treasury.
MR. RHODES:Â Well, thanks, everybody, for joining the call and, again, we look forward to a very important and packed schedule for these five days in the Pacific region and look forward to seeing some of you there.Â And weâ€™ll provide you with any more detail as it becomes locked and look forward to fielding your requests.