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U.S., Oz to broaden military ties amid Pentagon's focus on South East Asia

Washington, Tue, 27 Mar 2012 ANI

Washington, Mar 27(ANI): The United States and Australia are planning to augment military ties, including possible drone attacks from a coral atoll in the Indian Ocean and increased U.S. naval access to Australian ports.

The move would come as an agreement announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in November 2011 to deploy upto 2,500 U.S. Marines to Darwin, on Australia's northern coast, The Washington Post reports.

The talks indicate that the US is rapidly shifting its focus to Asia as it winds down a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.S. government is also finalizing a deal to station four warships in Singapore and has opened negotiations with the Philippines about boosting its military presence in the region.

The Pentagon is also seeking to upgrade military relations with Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

Analysts said the move represents a clear response to counter growing Chinese influence in the region.

A former Australian defense official, Hugh White said that the Australian security alliance with the United States is essential but that Beijing could perceive the moves as too bellicose.

"This is all about China, of course. Australia is in a very complicated position in this. None of us want to live in an Asia dominated by China, but none of us want to have an adversarial relationship with China," he added. (ANI)

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