Today we are pleased to welcome nominees for Ambassadors to three Asia- Pacific countries: Mr. John Berry, of Maryland, to be Ambassador to Australia; Mr. Dan Clune, of Maryland, to be Ambassador to Laos; and Mr. Joseph Yun, of Oregon, to be Ambassador to Malaysia. We also welcome your friends and families, and understand that the families of our diplomats around the world make tremendous sacrifices every day for our country.
So, I want to thank and congratulate them-and all of you- for agreeing to serve our nation in this important region. You all come with a vast array of experiences and talents and we welcome your nominations.
I also want to extend a special welcome to my good friend, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, who will introduce our nominee to Australia, John Berry after my opening remarks.
I must say, I am proud that both John and Dan are from Maryland. Our great state is once again proving to be home to some of the best and the brightest in our global community. And of course, Mr. Yun, you are a dedicated, seasoned professional and regional expert, so we won’t fault you for your Oregon roots.
John, Dan, Joe—we will look to you three, if confirmed, to help communicate to our Asia-Pacific friends the lasting U.S. commitment to the region. Australia, Laos, and Malaysia are very different countries, but they all share a common bond—they each are critically important to the U.S. mission to help foster a stable, secure and prosperous Asia-Pacific Region.
Australia, as a strategic treaty ally, partners closely with us on Rebalance defense issues, allowing flexible Marine deployments and greater access to air force and naval bases. Our countries cooperate to strengthen regional security and eliminate weapons of mass destruction. Australian forces have fought beside the United States and other Allies in every significant conflict since World War I, and we appreciate their loyalty and friendship. A flourishing fellow democracy, Australia also promotes human rights, democracy and good governance throughout the Pacific. Australian is a key TPP negotiator and important partner in our efforts to protect the environment, particularly the beautiful Pacific coral reefs, and to combat global climate change.
Malaysia- a moderate Muslim-majority democratic nation with a strong economy- is a key ASEAN member. ASEAN is instrumental to U.S. engagement in Southeast Asia under the Rebalance and to regional stability, and Malaysia is working to strengthen that important multilateral institution. Malaysia is also an important partner on counter-terrorism activities in the region. On health, Maryland’s Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is helping to build Malaysia’s first fully-integrated private medical school, financed by a $250 million Overseas Private Investment Corporation loan. President Obama will visit Kuala Lumpur in October for the Global Entrepreneur Summit, to help foster innovation and strengthen economic ties between American and Malaysian businesses. However, as a TPP aspirant and a diverse democracy, I am concerned that the country still blocks full political participation for the opposition, and that freedoms of expression and press, and minority rights, are problematic.
Laos, also an ASEAN member, is a new member of the World Trade Organization and a vital partner in an environmental element of our Rebalance, the Lower Mekong Initiative. Laos also works with the U.S. to combat the narcotics trade. The U.S. is working to heal the wounds of war through demining unexploded ordnance which still claims the lives of about 100 people each year, many of them children. The U.S. can and should do more to help Laos. There are indeed challenges in our relationship. We are concerned about political repression, violations of basic human rights, human trafficking and freedom of expression in Laos.
I welcome your thoughts on how we can address these concerns, while also you will seeking out more areas of cooperation in each country and in the wider region to promote security, stability, and prosperity under the Rebalance to Asia.
Before introducing the witnesses, I will now turn to my longest and dearest friend in public life, a great leader for the people of Maryland and the nation, the Democratic House Whip, Steny Hoyer, to introduce John Berry, the President’s Nominee for Ambassador to Australia .
John — I have known you for years; and of course as a Marylander I too am proud to have you here today. You were an asset to our State as Steny’s Legislative Director and in the State legislature, and your work on environmental and conservation issues will be particularly useful in Australia.
The President’s Nominee to represent us in Laos, Dan Clune, is also a proud Marylander. I had the pleasure of talking with him and found out that his wife is a University of Maryland College Park student and his son and daughter-in-law both graduated from the illustrious University of Maryland law school.
Dan is a senior member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor. He is currently an Assessor on the Board of Examiners in the Bureau of Human Resources at the Department of State. Prior to his current assignment, Dan served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Nassau, and at U.S. embassies in Lima, Jakarta, and Canberra. He has also served as in several high level economic and trade roles at the State Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. A graduate of Boston College and the University of California at Berkeley law school, he served in the U.S. Naval reserves for seven years and practiced law for ten years in Chicago before joining the Foreign Service in 1985.
Joseph Yun of Oregon—the only non-Marylander nominee—you should really think about moving your home base to Maryland, Joe– I have also had the pleasure not only of meeting Joe and getting his advice on my trip to Northeast Asia, but he has also testified before the subcommittee for my our first two hearings of the 113th Congress. Joe is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service. As Acting Assistant Secretary, he was directly responsible for the management of our policies and oversight of 45 overseas posts in the region, including our Embassy in Malaysia, and the supervision of some 200 staff in the Bureau. Prior to this, Mr. Yun was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP) where he has been involved in multiple issues related to South East Asia, including the U.S. decision to join the East Asia summit; the establishment of the Lower Mekong Initiative, and normalization of diplomatic relations with Burma. He has served in Bangkok, Thailand; Seoul, Korea; and in Paris, France, Indonesia and Hong Kong. Mr. Yun has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wales in Cardiff, United Kingdom and holds both Master of Science and Master of Philosophy degrees from the London School of Economics.
We know that this is a proud moment for all of you, as well as your families and friends, and hopefully we will have you out in time to enjoy some time with your loved ones—We have the unique challenge of getting through three testimonies and questions by 10AM, when the Chairman and Ranking Member must use this room for a briefing. I now turn it over to you for brief testimony, starting with Mr. Berry.