From Lalit K Jha Washington, Feb 3: Days after his successful India visit, US President Barack Obama has given a new thrust to the Asia Pacific re-balance in his annual budget and asserted that the region remains a key priority for him.
In order to address security, development, and economic challenges, the budget for the fiscal year 2016 prioritises advancing regional and country capabilities.
These investments are critical to the administration-wide efforts to promote regional security and economic cooperation, the budget proposals said.
Recognising that security in the Asia-Pacific region underpins regional and global prosperity, the budget aligns resources and activities to strengthen US alliances, to forge deeper partnerships with emerging powers and to pursue a productive relationship with China.
Building on Obama's successful November 2014 Asia trip, the budget provides resources to help deepen US trade in the region as the US leads the way in negotiating the high- standard Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, which will boost American exports and create jobs at home by promoting strong rules to protect labour, environment and intellectual property.
To promote universal and democratic values, the budget expands education and cultural exchanges and strengthens regional cooperation with organisations such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
In pursuit of security cooperation, the budget enhances and modernises US defense relationships, posture, and capabilities with a focus on maritime security. According to State Department officials, the request includes support for the re-balance to the Asia-Pacific region to enhance cooperation among bilateral and regional partners.
"It is clear that the Asia Pacific remains a key priority for us because of the level of increase," Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom told reporters at a news conference. The move comes as the new Indian government is following an "Act East Policy" in the region.