Signs of a new push in US pivot to Asia

Signs of a new push in US pivot to Asia

Nearly after the United States announced its 'rebalancing" strategy towards the Asia-Pacific, there are hints that a new phase of the widely debated strategy might be under way.

Since March, US officials have been emphasising their intention to rebalance within Asia, going beyond merely shifting resources and attention from Iraq and Afghanistan towards the Pacific region in general, as outlined in the original policy.

This new push will specifically see Washington increase its security, economic and diplomatic collaboration with South-east Asia, a region where the US is "especially underweighted", according to former US national security adviser Tom Donilon.

On Sunday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel gave the most detailed outline yet of this move, particularly on the security front.

Addressing a gathering of top defence officials at Malaysia's Institute of Defence and Security in Kuala Lumpur, he announced that the Pentagon is seeking a 50 per cent increase in its funding to support foreign militaries and training in South-east Asia.

He also spoke at length about the US roping in more regional countries, including Malaysia, in its military exercises.

And in remarks sure to get Beijing's attention, Mr Hagel noted that Washington could sell more weapons and further share military expertise with ASEAN countries, with the eventual goal of "moving towards co-production and co-development of new platforms with our closest partners".

"This will allow us to share American technology and expertise which will further deepen our security partnerships," he added. "We are currently working with Japan and Singapore on these kinds of initiatives, and we are looking to expand this important engagement with other countries in the region."

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