Pentagon chief holds Indonesia talks amid Syria crisis
JAKARTA (AFP) - Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel held talks in Indonesia on Monday as part of a tour to bolster US ties with South-east Asia but a confrontation with Syria threatened to overshadow the trip.
As part of a week-long tour of the region, Mr Hagel met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta before scheduled discussions with his counterpart, Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro.
While the trip is meant to highlight Washington's strategic "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific after a decade of war, an escalating showdown with the Syrian regime over its suspected use of chemical weapons has demanded Mr Hagel's attention since he arrived in the region last week.
With President Barack Obama weighing possible military action, Mr Hagel has been taking part in White House crisis meetings via video link from his plane and hotel.