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Biden reaffirms U.S. commitment to Asia rebalance


08:07, July 19, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden on Thursday reaffirmed the Obama administration's commitment to its rebalance toward Asia and the Pacific, saying the strategy reflects the importance of a region struggling with "uncertainty and risk."

The veep stressed that Washington's goal in the region is to make it not only more secure but more prosperous as well, as economic development and peace and stability are intertwined.

"We are focused on the risks of disruption of commerce, proliferation, humanitarian disasters, conflict between nations and the persistent threat caused by North Korea," he spoke at an event hosted by the Center for American Progress think tank at George Washington University, as he is scheduled to visit India and Singapore next week.

He said strong alliances, institutions and partnerships, part of Washington's efforts to expand its presence in Asia and the Pacific, are needed to face up to challenges facing the region.

The United States wants to be a partner in creating "21st- century rules of the road," and such rules would extend from economic to security issues, benefiting "not only the United States and the region, but the world as a whole," Biden said.

Biden said the U.S. is working closely with Japan, the Republic of Korea, China and Russia to make the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) stop its nuclear and missile programs.

He said Washington is willing to engage directly with Pyongyang, but only when it agrees to hold "genuine" negotiations and commit to giving up its nuclear program.

The veep called his country's long-standing alliances with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia, the Philippines and Thailand the "cornerstones" of its rebalance strategy.

He stressed that the rebalance does not mean Washington is losing its focus on Europe and the Middle East.

"We are not leaving Europe," Biden said. "Europe remains the cornerstone of our engagement with the rest of the world. That is a fact. We are not going anywhere."

"As a matter of fact, we are absolutely convinced that our engagement in the Pacific is in the overwhelming self-interest of Europe," he added. "Europe, just like the United States, will benefit greatly as well from stability in the Pacific."

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