Friday, November 18, 2016

US: Defense outlook on Asia-Pacific unlikely to change

There have been fears among some of Washington’s allies that President-elect Donald Trump could backtrack on the ‘Asia pivot’, which has seen US shift energies from the Middle East to the Pacific.
But senior US military officer Admiral Harry Harris said earlier this week that the new US administration could not shake the country’s resolve to maintain peace and security in the Asia Pacific region.
Speaking during the annual Defense One summit in Washington DC, the Commander of US Pacific Command sought to reassure allies in the Asia-Pacific region that their security is integral to that of the US.
Harris said that while he could not predict the potential policy initiatives of the incoming administration, he had “no doubt we’ll continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”
The region is home to a number of countries with which the US has had strained relations in recent months, including the Philippines and North Korea.
China has also posed a significant security challenge, with reports that it is constructing islands and military bases in the disputed South China Sea.
However, Harris said that military relations with China are “actually good,” adding that the US military will try to cooperate with China through conducting joint military exercises – some scheduled for this week – but will remain prepared for confrontation when necessary.
“America never has a lame duck commander-in-chief,” Harris said, indicating that US President Barack Obama will remain engaged in the region until his term ends in mid January.
But on one front, Obama is already in retreat, and nowhere more visibly than when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).
The China-proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) will be in focus during the upcoming  Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Peru from November 19-20 even as the US officially gives up on a rival trade deal, the TPP.
Heads of states including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama will be in attendance at the APEC Summit.
In Peru, Obama will explain to other TPP nations the reasons for the US government’s failure and the suspensions of its efforts to win congressional approval for the deal.
Meanwhile, during a mid-week phone call, Chinese President Xi told Trump that cooperation is the “önly correct choice” for future Sino-US relations.
“President-elect Trump stated that he believes the two leaders will have one of the strongest relationships for both countries moving forward,” a statement from Trump’s office said.
Trump had spoken with Xi and Putin and agreed to meet at a later date.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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