San Francisco, September 16, 2011 — Last night, September 15, The Asia Foundation and The World Affairs Council of Northern California hosted a private reception for the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Honorable Kevin M. Rudd, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. Foreign Minister Rudd spoke on the importance of American engagement in Asia, followed by a lively Q&A session moderated by Asia Foundation President David D. Arnold.
The reception came on the heels of the landmark Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) meetings where Foreign Minister Rudd discussed global and regional security challenges with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
“America will remain a key economic partner for Australia for as long as any of us will be around. But we also need to recognize that the global shift in economic weight is real,” Foreign Minister Rudd said as he examined the role of the United States in Asia at the reception.
“The Asia Foundation’s goal of a peaceful, prosperous, and open Asia-Pacific has been slowly taking shape over the past decades, as democracy and economic development have spread through the region.” Foreign Minister Rudd continued: “As economic weight shifts to Asia, the strategic centre of gravity is shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Indian Oceans.”
At the reception, Asia Foundation President Mr. Arnold remarked, “Australia is a regional leader recognized for its unique approach to addressing development and conflict challenges in the Asia-Pacific. The Asia Foundation is similarly deeply engaged in the region—where the stakes are high.” He continued: “We strongly believe that the strategic Asia Foundation-Australia partnership has the potential to transform the way we work together across the region—and will contribute to global efforts to improve aid effectiveness.
The Asia Foundation’s strategic collaboration with Australia has increased significantly in recent years, primarily with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). Since 2004, the Foundation has received support from the Australian government to implement important projects in 11 Asian countries. In the Philippines, the Foundation has worked closely with AusAID to strengthen development and stability in Mindanao. Its growing partnership with AusAID also includes local economic governance programs in Sri Lanka and supporting free and fair elections in Indonesia and Pakistan.
The Asia Foundation recently established a board of directors in Australia governed by a group of distinguished Australian academic and philanthropic leaders.