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Clinton predicts new challenges

The secretary of state meets here with Japan's foreign minister

By William Cole

LAST UPDATED: 1:41 a.m. HST, Oct 28, 2010

"New challenges" facing the United States and Japan will require the two nations "to deepen our dialogue, " U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said last night in Honolulu.

"We need to be looking at all kinds of scenarios, all kinds of contingencies, and work through responses to events that might occur in the future," she said.

Clinton held a news conference with new Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara at the Kahala Hotel and Resort after the two diplomats met for two hours.

Clinton was to meet with Adm. Robert Willard, head of U.S. Pacific Command, after the news conference, officials said.

Clinton arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at about 3:15 p.m. yesterday for what is expected to be less than a 24-hour stopover.

She is heading out on a seven-nation trip to Asia and the Pacific and is scheduled to visit Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.

Clinton added a last-minute stop to Hainan island in China to meet with Councilor Dai Bingguo.

Clinton noted the 50th anniversary of a security agreement with Japan and called the Japan-U.S. alliance the "cornerstone of American strategic engagement in the Asia-Pacific."

The talks also came as Japan wrestles with a previous agreement to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps air station to another part of Okinawa, and as China becomes more aggressive in the Yellow Sea and South China Sea.

"The goal of our two governments remains unchanged. Both countries want an arrangement that is operationally viable and politically sustainable (on Okinawa)," Clinton said. "That means the U.S. will reduce the impact of our bases on host communities while at the same time maintaining the capabilities that we need."

Clinton was asked whether the last-minute stop on Hainan could be seen as acquiescing to the Chinese. A Navy surveillance plane made an emergency landing in April 2001 on Hainan after colliding with a Chinese

military aircraft.

But she said the meeting was added to help prepare for Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States in January.

The Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington, D.C., released a report yesterday that said the U.S. and Japan are at a turning point in an environment of "unprecedented complexity."

The organization suggested steps to improve U.S. base defenses in Japan and suggested looking at reinforcing existing bases, dispersing U.S. troops in Japan through Oceania, or pulling back some of the Japan-based forces to Hawaii, among other options.

Clinton will give what the State Department is calling a "major policy" speech this morning at the Kahala Hotel and Resort before heading to Asia.

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