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Nominee to be Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam

William E. Todd, Ambassador Designate to Brunei Darussalam
Statement Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC
April 9, 2008

Madam Chairman, Senator Murkowski, and Members of the Committee, I am extremely honored to be here before you today as President Bush's nominee to become our next ambassador to the nation of Brunei Darussalam. I am also honored by the confidence the President and Secretary Rice have shown in me in making this nomination. If confirmed by the Senate, I will work closely with the Committee, interested members of Congress, and other Americans to advance U.S. interests in Brunei Darussalam.

Although a small country, Brunei exerts a greater influence in the region than its size would suggest. Brunei’s location, its status as a significant provider of hydrocarbons, its stance against terrorism, and its membership in a number of important regional and multilateral organizations, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), makes it an important partner, and a valued friend of the United States.

Since the Sultan of Brunei met with President Bush in the White House in December 2002, our ties with Brunei Darussalam, which means the “abode of peace” in Malay, have expanded and deepened. If confirmed, I therefore will be building on a strong foundation of growing cooperation in a number of areas, including security and military-to-military relations, economic-commercial ties, environmental protection, and people-to-people contacts.

In considering our economic relations, we have common interests with Brunei. Brunei shares with us a desire and strong support for free markets, secure global shipping lanes to ensure smooth passage of exports and imports, and a stable financial system. Brunei is an important provider of liquefied natural gas to the region and also provides oil to the world market. The United States had a little over half a billion dollars of two-way trade with Brunei in 2007. U.S. exports surged last year due to sales of aircraft and other manufactured items. If confirmed, I will do all I can to support U.S. businesses in order to continue this trend. We have a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with Brunei, which enables us to raise with Brunei officials our concerns and suggestions to expand our trade and investment relationship. Brunei is a member of what is called the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership, also known as the P-4 Free Trade Agreement, along with Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile. The U.S. Government has joined negotiations with those countries on the investment and financial services chapters of that Free Trade Agreement. We are also exploring whether it will be in the U.S. interest to participate in the full FTA. I look forward to increasing our economic relationship with Brunei through the P-4 and other means.

I also hope to do all I can to support Brunei’s partnership with Malaysia and Indonesia in the “Heart of Borneo Initiative” to preserve and sustainably manage the treasure of biodiversity that is found in the tropical rainforests of the island of Borneo. Although Brunei possesses just a fraction of the total area included in the Initiative, approximately 240,000 square kilometers, Brunei has put at least 58 percent of its territory under the conservation protection called for in the Heart of Borneo Initiative, which has the strong support of the Government and the people of Brunei.

Brunei Darussalam strives to maintain its well-deserved reputation as an “abode of peace.” The United States has found Brunei to be a valuable partner in promoting regional stability and security. Brunei and the United States coordinated relief to Aceh following the 2004 tsunami, and for several years Brunei has contributed forces to the international monitoring team on the Philippine island of Mindanao. Brunei welcomes the U.S. military presence in Southeast Asia, viewing it as essential to regional stability and prosperity. Our militaries cooperate closely in exercises and exchanges, and an increasing number of U.S. ships have visited Brunei’s port. Brunei’s first cadet at West Point is due to graduate in 2009, and two other officers are currently on shorter-term study in the United States. Our Department of Defense is working with the Government of Brunei to improve the latter’s abilities in military procurement, and we hope to sign a Mutual Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement to improve the ability of our military to work with its Bruneian counterparts in many areas, such as exercises and disaster assistance. If confirmed, I will seek to further enhance these ties. I will also work to improve our information sharing on terrorist threats.

Madam Chairman, Brunei is an absolute monarchy. If confirmed, I will share with Bruneians the benefits of our democratic system and political openness, and look for ways we can further promote Brunei’s move toward a more participatory government.

I also believe it is very important to promote greater people-to-people ties, and I especially want to increase the number of Bruneian students studying in or visiting the United States. While we have a friendly and constructive relationship with Brunei, I am confident that increased direct exposure to America would deepen understanding of our country by Bruneians and overcome stereotypes common in the global media. I am a firm believer in the value of public diplomacy and will work hard to ensure that Bruneians, the majority of whom are Muslim, are aware of the many qualities that make America such a great nation, and a nation of religious tolerance for all faiths.

Madam Chairman, if confirmed to lead our embassy in Brunei, I will be responsible for the protection of U.S. citizens and our employees and facilities. Fortunately, the United States and Brunei recently agreed on the acquisition of land in order to build a New Embassy Compound that, when completed, will provide a secure working environment for our dedicated diplomats and local employees. This will be a great improvement over the current Embassy location.

Madam Chairman, the experience I have gained in government service for nearly 25 years has prepared me well to serve as our next Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam. I have had a life-long interest in Asia, and I am looking forward with great enthusiasm to putting all of my experience and skill to use in order to advance U.S. interests in Brunei. I am currently the Acting Inspector General of the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. I direct all Office of Inspector General activities, domestically and abroad.

Previously, in the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), over a 4-year period I served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS), as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Civilian Police and Rule of Law Programs and Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East, as well as Executive Director/Controller. As PDAS, I was the Chief Operating Officer for global programs, including all post-conflict activities, and at the forefront of our international programs for police training, rule of law, and counternarcotics efforts in some of the most hostile places on earth, including Iraq, Afghanistan, and Colombia. I managed approximately 4,000 employees and contractors in more than 75 theatres of operation. As INL’s Executive Director/Controller, I was in charge of about one-sixth of the State Department’s budget (over $3.5 billion), and about one-fourth of its assets.

Finally, as Director of Planning and Resource Management for the Department of Commerce’s U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service, I built, staffed, and opened U.S. Commercial Centers around the world, including three in Asia.

Madam Chairman, members of the Committee, thank you again for your consideration of my nomination. I would be happy to respond to your questions.

Released on April 9, 2008

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