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Clinton Leaves for Asia, First Foreign Trip as Secretary of State

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is departing for Asia on Sunday, her first trip abroad as President Barack Obama's chief diplomat.

During her week-long visit to Japan, Indonesia, South Korea and China, Clinton will express the administration's interest in the region as Washington seeks to halt North Korea's nuclear arms program and stabilize the global economy.

During her first stop in Japan, Clinton will sign an agreement moving 8,000 U.S. military personnel from Japan to the U.S. Pacific island of Guam, in an effort to further ease friction caused by the American troop presence in Japan.

In Indonesia, she is expected to forge closer cooperation with the government and its partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to work collectively for improved human rights conditions in Burma. Last week, Clinton commended Indonesia for settling the conflict in Aceh province and for efforts for peace and stability in East Timor.

In China, the secretary of state is expected to seek a broader bilateral relationship, beyond traditional economic and trade ties. She has said that a positive, cooperative U.S. - China relationship is vital to peace and prosperity not only in Asia but world wide.

In a speech Friday, the secretary of state said she intends to press for "robust" and "rigorous" engagement when she meets with Asian leaders during her trip.

She said America's capacity to help solve the world's major challenges, from the financial crisis to terrorism to climate change, depends on decisions being made in Asia.