Hagel promotes US focus on Asia as Syria looms
JERUDONG, Brunei (AFP) - Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel meets with his Asian counterparts on Wednesday as the US promotes its shift to the region, but a potential showdown with Syria looms over the talks.
Hagel plans to call for restraint in the disputed South China Sea and underscore America's strategic tilt to the Asia-Pacific at the gathering in Brunei of defence ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), China and elsewhere, officials said.
The two-day Asean meeting is the main event of Mr Hagel's week-long trip to Southeast Asia but a mounting crisis between Syria and the West has repeatedly demanded his attention.
"We are ready to go, like that," Mr Hagel told the BBC in an interview Tuesday, when asked about preparations for potential military action against Syria.