US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will embark on a three-nation Asia-Pacific tour next week that is seen very important in US Defense strategy.
He will leave on May 30 to participate in the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little George Little announced on Tuesday.
On the way to Asia, he will visit with head of the U.S. Pacific Command, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, at his headquarters in Hawaii as well as with service members assigned there.
The secretary then flies to Singapore to deliver remarks at the opening plenary session of the Shangri-La Dialogue where he is expected to speak about U.S. defense policy in an era of austerity.
He will also hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia and other nations.
Panetta will then travel to Vietnam for a two-day visit. "The United States has a long-term commitment to advancing a strong bilateral defense relationship with Vietnam that is based on mutual trust and understanding," Little said. "This visit will afford us an opportunity to continue to work on that very important relationship," he added.
Panetta will go on to India for a two-day visit. "Further developing the U.S.-India relationship is a priority for the United States government, and our bilateral relationship is one of the defining partnerships of the 21st century for the United States," Little said.
Little stressed the central role of the Asia-Pacific region in U.S. strategic guidance. "The secretary, when he was last in Asia, previewed much of that strategy," he said, and added: "He talked about the United States being a Pacific nation and a Pacific power."
The Asia-Pacific region is vital to U.S. national security interests and will be in the future, Little said.
"We are absolutely turning toward the Asia-Pacific as a place where our strategic interests are increasingly of importance," he said. "Our partnerships … in the region are critical. And we're going to continue to invest in those relationships."
by RTT Staff Writer
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