Obama Hails US-Australian Alliance in Visit to Troops

Posted November 17th, 2011 at 5:20 am (UTC-5)
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U.S. President Barack Obama praised the alliance between the United States and Australia during a visit Thursday to a military base in Darwin, the city where up to 2,500 U.S. troops soon will be based.

Mr. Obama made the remarks to U.S. and Australian troops before departing for the East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Before his speech, he laid a wreath commemorating the USS Peary, a U.S. navy ship that was destroyed by Japanese bombers in World War Two.

Earlier, Mr. Obama told Australia's parliament Wednesday that developments in the Asia-Pacific region will largely define the century ahead and that the U.S. presence there is his administration's top priority.

The deal to deploy U.S troops in Australia, agreed to by Mr. Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, calls for a force of 200 to 250 U.S. Marines to be based in the country's Northern Territory for rotating six-month deployments. The contingent would grow over time to a full force of 2,500 personnel.

China is suggesting the U.S. deployment may not be appropriate and should be discussed within the international community.

Mr. Obama insisted there was nothing inappropriate about the plan. He said the U.S. troop presence will provide new opportunities to train with U.S. allies and partners and to respond to a full range of challenges, including humanitarian crises and disaster relief.

In his remarks to parliament, Mr. Obama pledged that the United States will act firmly against any nuclear proliferation activities by North Korea. He also said human rights violations persist in Burma despite progress there, and that the United States will continue to speak clearly about the steps Burma's government must take to have a better relationship with the United States.