US Contemplates Bigger Military Presence in Northern Australia

Posted October 20th, 2011 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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Australia says it is in talks with the United States aimed at increasing the U.S. military presence in the north of the country.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith said in a radio interview Thursday there are no plans for a permanent U.S. base on Australia's north coast, which faces Indonesia. But he said the countries are discussing the possibility of increased training and exercises.

Smith said he expects the talks to lead to increased visits to Australia by U.S. ships, aircraft and troops. He said the countries are also discussing the pre-positioning of equipment so that troops can play a bigger role in disaster relief operations throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

He said there has been talk about buying land near the city of Darwin for that purpose.

U.S. aircraft carriers were used as floating bases for American relief efforts in Japan after the March earthquake and tsunami that left 20,000 people dead or missing.