(MENAFN - Arab Times) US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday that reaching a deal to resolve America's budget crisis is critical to its global leadership and national security and would bolster efforts to project US economic power around the world.
Speaking in Singapore during a tour of Asia and Australia, Clinton said that when she was in Asia last year during the height of debate about the US debt ceiling, leaders from across the region asked her if the US Congress would actually allow the United States to default on its debt. "Let's be clear," she said. "The full faith and credit of the United States should never be in question." However, Clinton, who spoke at Singapore Management University, said that with Washington gearing up for another round of budget negotiations, she was "again hearing concerns about the global implications of America's economic choices".
Clinton, who says she will step down as secretary of state early next year and has ruled out running again for the US presidency in 2016, said she was now "out of politics". She said that despite all the differences between the US political parties, "we are united in our commitment to protect American leadership and bolster our national security". "Reaching a meaningful budget deal is a critical to both," she said. "It would shore up our ability to project economic power around the globe, strengthen our position in the competition of ideas shaping the global marketplace, and remind all nations that we remain a steady and dependable partner.
"For us, this is a moment to once again prove the resilience of our economic system and reaffirm America's leadership in the world," Clinton said, stressing that US leadership depended on its economic strength. "Global leadership is not a birthright for the United States or any nation. It must be constantly tended and earned anew."
US President Barack Obama and his Republican rivals are in talks aimed at avoiding what has been dubbed a "fiscal cliff" at the year-end, which experts say could push the US economy back into recession. US foreign policy is being reoriented to promote American economic interests after Washington was tied down by two wars in the past decade, Clinton said.
"We are shaping our foreign policy to account for both the economics of power and the power of economics," she said in a speech in Singapore ahead of a an Asia-Pacific summit in Cambodia to be attended by President Obama.
After a decade attending to "a war in Iraq that is now over and a war in Afghanistan that is winding down," Clinton said the "first and most fundamental task is to update our foreign policy and its priorities for a changing world".
"Our global leadership depends on our economic strength," she said, adding that the new emphasis on "jobs diplomacy" would boost US exports, open up new markets and level the playing field for American firms to compete overseas.
More than 270 US embassies and consulates across the world will operate as advocates for US companies and help achieve the newly reelected Obama's goal of doubling US exports in five years, Clinton said.
Washington is seeking "a rebalancing of the global economy so Americans export more, Asians import more and we avoid financial crises and build middle classes".
Clinton spelled out key initiatives in various regions, including the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership being discussed with Asian countries, efforts to increase the US market presence in Africa and trade pacts with Latin American nations.
"Responding to threats will of course always be central to our foreign policy, but it cannot be our foreign policy. America has to seize opportunities that will shore up our strength for years to come," she added.