US seeks to expand military presence in Asia, says Def Secy Robert Gates

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London, Nov 8 (ANI): US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said that America wants to bolster its military presence across Asia, adding that closer ties with Australia would help the US expand its role in South East Asia.

On his way to Australia for annual security talks, Gates said that Washington would focus on fighting piracy, improving counter-terrorism, disaster aid and cyber-security.

According to the BBC, he further stated that the US had no plans for more bases in the region, and also expressed hopes for increased co-operation on issues such as missile defence and "space surveillance".

"We're looking at a number of different options," he said.

Stressing that the US move was not to contain China, which is engaged in various territorial disputes in the region, Gates added: "This isn't about China at all. It is more about our relationships with the rest of Asia than it is about China."

Concerns have intensified around the region since China published maps earlier this year claiming the entire South China Sea as part of its territory.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that everyone hoped China could play a larger role in regional co-operation.

"I believe we have a shared perspective with the United States that we want China to be a force for good, strongly engaged in global and regional architecture, strongly engaged in a rules-based framework," the paper quoted Gillard, as saying.

However there is controversy in Australia on the idea of sharing bases, which could mean more US soldiers present in the country, the report said. (ANI)

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