US hails deal on relocating airbase in Japan
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel on Friday hailed a decision by Japanese officials to allow the relocation of a US air base in Okinawa, saying it was a "milestone" for relations with Tokyo.
Mr Hagel welcomed the approval of the long-delayed move of the US Marine Corps base, which he said would permit a redeployment of American forces in the area and bolster Washington's strategic "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific region.
"Reaching this milestone is a clear demonstration to the region that the alliance is capable of handling complex, difficult problems in order to deal effectively with 21st century security challenges," Mr Hagel said in a statement.
"Our alliance has helped underwrite regional peace, stability, and prosperity for more than half a century, and resolving these years-long issues will enable us to take our relationship to the next level as we revise the guidelines for US-Japan defence cooperation," he said.