Australia FM Defends U.S. Military Ties While on China Trip

Posted May 15th, 2012 at 7:25 am (UTC-5)
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Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr is defending his country's deepening military alliance with the United States as he makes his first official visit to China.

Carr said Tuesday that his talks with Chinese officials have been dominated by concerns about Australia's decision to host up to 2,500 U.S. troops as part of the Obama administration's strategic shift towards the Asia-Pacific.

Carr, who took office in March, told reporters in Beijing that the Australian-U.S. military relationship is not new.

“Australia has an instinct for its security relationship with America that goes back a hundred years. It was in 1905 that the Japanese victory over Russia in the naval war between Russia and Japan sparked interest in Australia engaging America in the Pacific. Since that time, Australia has wanted to see America play a role in the Asia-Pacific. It's deep in Australia's DNA.”

In April, the first wave of U.S. Marines began arriving in northern Australia under a November deal that Washington said is aimed at maintaining security in the Asia-Pacific. The decision was widely interpreted by Chinese officials as a move to balance Beijing's rising power.

Carr said that he would also like to see greater military cooperation between Australia and China. He is meeting Tuesday with Chinese Vice Premiere Li Keqiang to discuss a possible free trade agreement between the two countries.