Saturday, June 2, 2012

Smith praises US presence in Asia-Pacific

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has spoken of "the positive impact" of the United States' presence in the Asia-Pacific, just hours after the Pentagon announced it is shifting more navy ships to the region.

At the annual Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore on Saturday, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta detailed a five-year plan for 60 per cent of the fleet to be assigned to the Pacific by 2020, as part of a new strategy to increase the US presence in Asia.

The boost in naval presence could increase tensions with China, whose leaders have expressed unhappiness at any larger US presence in the Asia-Pacific region.

In April, Australia welcomed the first rotational deployment of 250 US marines to Darwin and northern Australia.

Eventually around 2500 will train in Australia, under the program of enhanced defence cooperation, as outlined by US President Barack Obama during a visit to Australia in November. Read More