May 21, 2013
Obama tells Asia: 'US is here to stay'
President Barack Obama said today that the US military would expand its role in the Asia-Pacific region despite budget cuts, declaring America was "here to stay" as a Pacific power which would help shape the region's future.
China voiced misgivings about Obama's announcement of a de facto military base in Australia. Obama acknowledged China's unease at what it sees as attempts by Washington to encircle it, pledging to seek greater cooperation with Beijing."As we end today's wars, I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority," Obama said in a major speech on Washington's vision for the Asia-Pacific region.
"As a result, reductions in US defense spending will not -I repeat, will not - come at the expense of the Asia Pacific."
He added: "We'll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation.""It was here in Darwin that our alliance was born during Australia's 'Pearl Harbor'," Obama, with his sleeves rolled up, told 2,000 Australian and US troops in the tropical port, where he stopped off en route to Indonesia.
More bombs were dropped on Darwin during a World War Two Japanese raid than in Hawaii, but Obama said US-Australian troops regrouped and went on to major Pacific victories.
"Here in Darwin and northern Australia we will write the next proud chapter in our alliance," said Obama, adding U.S. and Australian forces would ensure security of the Asian sealanes to the north which were critical for both economies.