Sat, Nov 26, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Obama maps out new Asia strategy

By Richard Halloran

Later, in Bali, US officials disclosed that Washington would provide 24 refurbished F-16C/D jets to the Indonesian Air Force to patrol the southern shores of the South China Sea. In addition, the US would also provide 12 Black Hawk helicopters to Brunei. Those versatile aircraft can be used against pirates at sea.

Further, Obama conferred individually with leaders from Singapore, Malaysia and India. Before meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, considered a current and future rival of China, Obama said he was pleased that India and the US could “work together on a wide range of issues, such as maritime security or nonproliferation.”

Obama also announced that he had asked US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to visit Myanmar next month to explore reconciliation between the US and the government there. Although US officials were cautious in briefing the press, it was clear that Washington was seeking to douse Chinese influence in a nation on its southern border.

Perhaps most importantly , Obama assured Asian leaders that he would see to it that the forthcoming budget cuts in Washington would not affect the US security posture in Asia, even as the defense budget takes its share of hits.

Richard Halloran is a commentator based in Hawaii.

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