US defense chief eyes 'reckless' Pyongyang, China buildup

October 24, 2011 11:24

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta singled out a "reckless" North Korea and Chinese military assertiveness as causes for concern as he arrived in Japan on Monday, flagging the importance of the US military's presence in Asia.

Panetta, on his first trip to Asia since taking over the Pentagon's top job in July, has been assuring allies in the region that the US military will maintain a strong posture in the Pacific despite looming defense spending cuts at home.

"As a Pacific power, the United States remains committed to a robust forward presence in Asia," Panetta, a former CIA director, said in an opinion piece published in Japan's Yomiuri newspaper.

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