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Secretary Kerry's Remarks at the World Economic Forum

Speaker: John F. Kerry
Published January 24, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 24, 2014, discussing the United States' global commitments in trade, economic development, foreign relations, and conflict resolution.

Excerpt:

"Far from disengaging, America is proud to be more engaged than ever, and, I believe, is playing as critical a role, perhaps as critical as ever, in pursuit of peace, prosperity, and stability in various parts of the world.

Right here in Europe, we are working with our partners to press the Government of Ukraine to forgo violence, to address the concerns of peaceful protesters, to foster dialogue, promote the freedom of assembly and expression. And I literally just received messages before walking in here of the efforts of our diplomats on the ground working with President Yanukovych to try to achieve calm and help move in this direction in the next days. We will stand with the people of Ukraine.

We're also making progress towards finalizing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would link the world's largest market, the EU, with the world's single largest economy, the United States, raising standards and creating jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the Asia Pacific region, we are negotiating the Trans Pacific Partnership, which will similarly encourage a race to the top, not the bottom, as it unifies 40 percent of the world's economy. The United States is working extremely closely with China and our allies in the region in order to address North Korea's reckless nuclear program, and also on diplomatic priorities like disaster relief and development. I was recently in the Philippines, and in a few weeks, I will be back in Asia, my fifth trip as Secretary of State within a year. We are working with our ASEAN partners to discourage escalatory steps and conflict in the South China Sea. And this is a critical part of the President's rebalance to Asia.

Across Africa, the home to seven of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies, we are investing heavily in both development and trade. And in the Great Lakes region, we just recently helped end an armed rebellion, demobilizing the M23 armed group. And just yesterday, thanks to our diplomatic intense engagement on the ground, we have helped to achieve a ceasefire in South Sudan. And I can tell you that almost every day during the so-called Christmas break, I was on the phone to either President Kiir or to former Vice President Riek Machar or to the prime minister of Ethiopia or President Museveni of Uganda as we worked diligently to try to move towards peace.

Closer to home, we just completed a U.S.-Canada-Mexico summit in Washington last week in preparation for our leaders who will focus on increased cooperation in our hemisphere, a North American effort for renewed entrepreneurship, renewable energy, and educational exchanges.

So after a decade that was perhaps uniquely, and in many people's view, unfortunately, excessively defined foremost by force and our use of force, we are entering an era of American diplomatic engagement that is as broad and as deep as any at any time in our history. And such are the responsibilities of a global power.

The most bewildering version of this disengagement myth is about a supposed retreat by the United States from the Middle East. Now, my response to that suggestion is simple: You cannot find another country – not one country – that is as proactively engaged, that is partnering with so many Middle Eastern countries as constructively as we are on so many high-stake fronts. And I want to emphasize that last point: partnering. We have no pretense about solving these problems alone. Nor is anyone suggesting, least of all me, that the United States can solve every one of the region's problems or that every one of them can be a priority at the same time.

But as President Obama made clear last fall at the United Nations, the United States of America will continue to invest significant effort in the Middle East because we have enduring interests in the region, and we have enduring friendships with countries that rely on us for their security in a volatile neighborhood. We will defend our partners and our allies as necessary, and we will continue to ensure the free flow of energy, dismantle terrorist networks, and we will not tolerate the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Now in reality, all three of these challenges and the relationships that surround them and accomplishing all of these goals requires, in President Obama's words, for the United States to "be engaged in the region for the long haul."

From security cooperation with our Gulf partners like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with whom we are both discussing longer-term security framework for the region, as well as to helping countries in transition like Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, to countering al-Qaida and its affiliates, to ensuring stability for the world's shipping lanes and energy supply, there is no shortage of the places where we are engaged in the Middle East.

So the question isn't whether we're leaving. The question is how we are leading. Today, we believe that there are initiatives that, taken together, have the potential to reshape the Middle East and could even help create the foundations of a new order."

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