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Asia rebalance remains US priority amid fiscal woes: Pentagon

Published on Feb 28, 2013 9:02 AM

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The Obama administration policy of shifting its security focus to the Asia-Pacific region will remain on track despite drastic US budget cuts looming this week, the top Pentagon official for Asia said on Wednesday.

In late 2011, the administration articulated a policy for a"pivot" or "rebalance" of its diplomatic and security focus to East Asia as it winds down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US fiscal crisis has raised questions about the US ability to follow through on these plans.

"The rebalance is a priority and we'll work to see that continue," said Mark Lippert, assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific affairs, as Washington braced for US$85 billion (S$ 105.93 billion) in government-wide budget cuts, known as a sequester, starting on Friday.

"The hardest thing about sequestration is the unpredictability and turbulence in terms of short-term funding and planning," he said.

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