Clinton Tough on North Korea on First Trip Abroad

By Dschabner

Feb 15, 2009 10:37pm

ABC News’ Martha Raddatz reports: On her first flight abroad as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton told reporters that choosing Asia for her initial overseas foray demonstrated how indispensable Asia is to the "opportunities and challenges of the 21st century." 

Clinton made several trips to the back of the plane to visit with reporters. She was upbeat and said she was looking forward to engaging on issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to the global economy.

While Clinton was en route to Tokyo, North Korea was threatening to fire a missile.

"The North Koreans have already agreed to dismantling," she said. "We expect them to fulfill the obligations that they entered into."

The secretary has warned North Korea "to avoid any provocative action and unhelpful rhetoric."

Clinton said her trip will demonstrate a new U.S. commitment to work with Asian leaders on "problems that no one nation, including ours, can deal with alone."

Clinton also promised to meet with families of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the 1970s and ’80s.

She said, "We do want to press the North Koreans to be more forthcoming with information."

The secretary’s first trip includes visits to Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul, and Beijing. 

"This region is indispensable to our efforts to seize the opportunities and meet the challenges of the 21st century," she told reporters while refueling in Alaska.

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