Chinese activist mars Obama, Noda meeting
US President Obama and the Japanese Prime Minister Noda speak at a press conference in White House. Both leaders present a unified front against Pyongyang. ABACA photoU.S. President Barack Obama and the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda pledged on April 30 to strengthen the U.S.-Japan security alliance. However, a Chinese dissident reportedly under U.S. protection in Beijing casts shadow over the meeting.
During a press conference with Noda, Obama declined to confirm that Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng was holed up under U.S. protection in Beijing, but said human rights was a prime concern in Sino-US ties. “I am aware of the press reports on the situation in China,” Obama said, before adding: “I am not going to make a statement on the issue.” “What I would like to emphasize is that every time we meet with China, the issue of human rights comes up,” Obama said. “It is our belief that not only is that the right thing to do because it comports with our principles and our belief in freedom and human rights.
Clinton heads to Beijing
Obama’s careful response hinted at the extreme sensitivity of the issue for crucial U.S.-China relations ahead of a visit this week to Beijing by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Clinton left April 30 on a high-stakes trip to Beijing. Before leaving, she promised to press China’s leaders on human rights. Clinton ducked a question about Chen, but hinted that she would not be shy about the matter in Beijing. “A constructive relationship includes talking very frankly about those areas where we do not agree, including human rights,” she told a news conference.
Chen fled house arrest in Shandong province on April 22 with the help of supporters from under the noses of dozens of guards.
Unified stance on N Korea
Obama and Noda put their stamp of approval on a long-stalled agreement to sharply reduce the U.S. military presence on the island of Okinawa, which could help ease the way for Obama’s strategy of dispersing U.S. forces around the western Pacific. Noda said that the two sides will “continue to work for an early resolution of this issue” and pledged to bolster defense ties.
“We have agreed to a new joint vision to guide our alliance and help shape the Asia-Pacific for decades to come,” Obama said. Obama and Noda also presented a unified front against North Korea over its recent failed rocket launch, with Obama vowing not to tolerate the communist state’s “old pattern of provocation.” Obama said North Korea’s “old pattern of provocation” is “broken.”
Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.