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SUVA, Fiji (Pacific Newsline, Mar. 27) - Combating terrorism is the top priority of the United States with regard to the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) region, according to Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly.

In prepared remarks before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing March 26, Kelly said the fight against terrorism was critical to obtaining America's other objectives in the region.

The war on terrorism, he explained to senators, "is inextricably linked to our long-term and overarching goal of regional stability."

Regional stability, he added, "provides the underpinning for achievement of other key goals and objectives."

Kelly said the Bush administration's goals for the EAP region include promoting and deepening democracy; improving sustainable economic development; countering proliferation and weapons of mass destruction; countering international crime in the region; and promoting open markets."

The growth of terrorist networks in the EAP region "presents a direct threat to U.S. national security, to the welfare of Americans overseas and to the security of U.S. allies and friends in the region," Kelly said.

The Bush administration, Kelly added, "will continue to carefully manage ties" with five regional allies - Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, the Philippines, and Thailand - "to maintain our ability to sustain a stable and secure environment in the region."

March 28, 2003

United States Embassy, Suva, Fiji 

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