Obama Visits Australian Military Base, Speaks To U.S Troops

Posted November 17th, 2011 at 3:15 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Darwin, Australia, where U.S. troops will soon be stationed under an agreement to maintain a military presence on Australian soil.

Mr. Obama will lay a wreath commemorating the USS Peary, a U.S. navy ship that was destroyed by Japanese bombers in World War Two. He will also speak to U.S. and Australian soldiers at an air force base in Darwin.

Mr. Obama told Australia's parliament Wednesday 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.

China is suggesting the deployment of U.S. troops to Australia 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.

The troop deployment deal calls for a force of 200 to 250 U.S. Marines to be based in Australia's Northern Territory for rotating six-month deployments. The contingent would grow over time to a full force of 2,500 personnel.

In his remarks, 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.

The U.S. president stopped in Australia on the way to Bali, Indonesia, where he and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will attend the East Asia Summit. The United States, as well as Russia, will participate in the summit as full members for the first time.