By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
Feb. 21, 2007 – Vice President Dick Cheney today thanked Japan for its support of the United States and praised U.S. troops serving in the Asia-Pacific region during a visit to a naval base shared by U.S. and Japanese forces. Cheney stressed the importance of continued good relations between the two nations during a visit to Yokosuka Naval Base. Following a meeting with top Japanese and military commanders at the base, Cheney said he noted a positive working relationship is in place.
"The close cooperation among these commanders reflects the character of our alliance," he said. "It's a relationship based on trust, respect and a deep understanding and commitment to facing security challenges together."
The vice president expressed gratitude for Japan's help in the war on terror.
"We especially appreciate Japan's contributions to our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq," he said. "Japan is a great friend to the United States. Relations between our countries have never been better, and our alliance has never been more vital."
Cheney pledged America's continued support for Japan and said the two countries need to cooperate further as the relationship helps them confront the threats facing the world.
"The U.S. is firmly committed to the defense of our friends in Japan," he said. "As the security environment changes both regionally and globally, both the U.S. military and the Japanese Self Defense Forces are determined to remain modern and flexible. At the same time, we're working to enhance our joint capabilities to meet the dangers we both face, whether they involve weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles or terrorist cells."
Later, addressing the crew of the USS Kitty Hawk, which is berthed at the base, Cheney continued the theme of U.S.-Japanese cooperation.
"Our two countries share common values and strategic objectives," he said. "Our forces work closely together, and some of the most important joint exercises are carried out right here at this base. We stand beside each other as allies, but we are more than that. Relations between our two countries have never been better than they are today. The United States of America is proud to call Japan one of our closest allies."
Cheney noted that U.S. and Japanese forces have served together in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that Japan has been one of the largest donors toward the reconstruction effort in those two countries.
"As great democracies, Japan and the United States understand our duties in the world. Sometimes these duties are hard and dangerous, but we accept them. And none is more pressing than the fight against global terror."
The vice president also underscored the U.S. commitment to maintaining a strong forward presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Throughout this region, our country has interests and treaty obligations and commitments of conscience," he said. "To meet these responsibilities, we need safe and unimpeded movement on the seas, and bases for our ships and personnel.
"From our Pacific bases, we stand ready to defend our allies and our friends," he continued. "We keep the shipping lanes open for trade, which is the economic lifeline for so many countries. We keep an eye out for those who try to move deadly weapons across these waters, and we bring relief to the victims of natural disasters."
The vice president praised the Kitty Hawk's crew for its contributions to stability in the Pacific region.
"As I look at each of you here in the hangar bay, there is no way I could overstate how much your service means to our country," he said. "The Navy knows how to train and prepare for whatever assignment may come, and it takes an incredible amount of work to make an aircraft carrier operational for the next mission -- especially a great ship like this, that I know takes a lot of care and feeding each and every day.
"The work goes on around the clock, seven days a week," he said. "And every one of you is here for a reason -- you have a job that has to be done well. ... Your service makes a difference for a nation at war and improves the chances that one day we'll be a world at peace."
The Kitty Hawk has played a vigorous role in the war on terror since soon after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, Cheney noted.
"Just weeks after 9/11, she was deployed to the North Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," he said. "Later, in the campaign to liberate Iraq, the Kitty Hawk traveled 29,000 nautical miles, and more than 5,000 sorties were flown from the deck above us. Since the war began, we've struck major blows against the al Qaeda network that hit America on 9/11. We've removed two dictatorships that sponsored terror, liberated 50 million people from tyranny and stood by young democracies, as America always does."
Cheney emphasized to the Kitty Hawk's crew the importance of their mission.
"Our country is doing good and honorable work in a messy and a dangerous world," he said. "By defending ourselves and standing with our friends, we're meeting our responsibilities. The cause we serve is freedom. That cause is right. That cause is just. And that cause will prevail."
The vice president is visiting the Pacific region on a trip that also will take him to Guam and Australia.
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