Obama to Asia: US 'here to stay' as Pacific power

By REUTERS
November 17, 2011 03:45

 
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CANBERRA - US President Barack Obama vowed on Thursday that budget cuts would not thwart plans for a wider US military role in Asia and declared during a trip to the region that America was "here to stay" as a Pacific power.

Nervous about China's growing clout, US allies such as Japan and South Korea have sought assurances from the United States that it would be a strong counterweight in the region.

Obama, during a two-day stop in Canberra, used a speech to the Australian Parliament to allay concerns that intensifying pressure in Washington to cut the budget deficit would lead to a weakened US footprint in Asia.

"As the United States puts our fiscal house in order, we are reducing our spending. And yes, after a decade of extraordinary growth in our military budgets - and as we definitively end the war in Iraq, and begin to wind down the war in Afghanistan - we will make some reductions in defense spending," Obama said in prepared remarks.

But he added that "reductions in US defense spending will not - I repeat, will not - come at the expense of the Asia Pacific."

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