Expand military presence in Australia to strengthen U.S. power in Asia-Pacific

20:04, November 08, 2010      

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) addresses the Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) meeting in Melbourne, Australia, Nov. 8, 2010. (Xinhua/Bai Xue)

The 25th annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) talks on Monday ended in Melbourne of Australia, with the parties agreeing to more discussions on the U. S. expanding its military presence in Australia.

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Specific measures have yet to be decided, with the U.S. yet to make any decisions under its Force Posture Review, which will examine its military presence in the Asia-Pacific.

However, Australia's major media highly expected the joint defense co-operation to include increasing combined military exercises, greater access for U.S. ships and planes, and increased use of U.S. military bases in Australia.

U.S. Congress on Monday passed the Australia-U.S. Defense Trade Co-operation Treaty, which means the U.S. equipment are also likely to be stationed on Australian soil, for use in military exercises and emergencies in the region.

"The one thing I believe we all agree on is that we are looking at an enhanced presence for the United States in Asia and not some kind of cutback," U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

Speaking after the Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) talks with Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith in Melbourne, Dr Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is keen to play a greater role in the Asia- Pacific region.

"We have re-engaged in a major way and now we are looking at the next steps in that," Dr Gates said.

Clinton on Saturday praised Australia's efforts to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and said a stronger U.S. presence would help Australia deal with the inevitable problems climate change will cause for smaller Pacific nations.

Smith was positive about the joint defense co-operation, saying that this is very important to Australia seeing the U.S. engaged in the Asia-Pacific.

As well as working together on cyberspace threats, Australia and the U.S. on Monday signed an agreement designed to lead to greater co-operation on the surveillance of space.

The proposal is to place radars and sensors in Western Australia, as part of its plan to track dangerous space junk, satellites and missiles in the southern hemisphere. The talks on the joint U.S.-Australia space monitoring facility will start in January next year.

Clinton said the closer of cooperation will make sure space is used for peaceful means only.

According to Australia Associated Press, some analysts suggested the expanded U.S. presence in Australia is designed to counter the rise of Asia-Pacific powers, such as India and China.

However, Clinton rejected the claims and said the U.S. had long been both a Pacific and Atlantic power.

"We are not doing anything differently to any significant degree. We are merely taking stock of what we're going to be needing to do in the future so that we are well prepared and working closely with our friends and allies," Clinton told reporters in Melbourne on Monday.

Rudd earlier indicated that Australia and U.S. are committed to build strong relationship with China, Japan and South Korea.

Australia is the final destination of Clinton's 10-day Asia- Pacific tour, which she has visited Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. Clinton flew out of Australia on late Monday afternoon.

Source: Xinhua(By Vienna Ma)


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