Clinton flies off on her first overseas trip as secretary of state Sunday and is taking on the headline task of hosing down the latest threats from North Korea.
Previewing her week-long tour of Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China, Clinton also pitched herself as the equal “partner” of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in whipping the world economy back into shape.
If North Korea moves to disarm, Clinton said the U.S. was ready “to normalize bilateral relations and replace the peninsula’s long-standing armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty.”
As bait, Clinton offered to “assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people.”
Last week, retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones, the new national security adviser in the White House, mapped out a “dramatically different” policy role for his office that appeared to diminish Clinton’s fiefdom as the nation’s chief diplomat.
But her hefty agenda for the Asia trip undercut the notion that much of her responsibility would be doled out among special envoys and cabinet rivals.
Michael Greene, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who had dinner with Clinton recently, chimed in that “the secretary of state is going to lead with a certain amount of humility” on her trip. But Clinton stuck to her mantra that foreign policy was a “three-legged stool” – defense, diplomacy and development – and the last two legs were hers.
To help her out, former President Bill Clinton renewed his pledge that he would stay out of his wife’s way. He added that it wouldn’t cramp his style of globe-trotting for his foundation.
“No, the only thing that’s cramping us is the global financial crisis,” he told National Public Radio.
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