Pentagon chief to stress US 'pivot' in South-east Asia tour
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel kicks off a South-east Asian tour on Sunday meant to stress Washington's so-called "pivot" back towards the Asia-Pacific but with attention diverted by trouble in the Middle East.
The Pentagon chief's week-long trip is part of a concerted effort by Washington to re-balance America's strategic priorities towards the Asia-Pacific.
But crises in the Middle East continued to demand Mr Hagel's attention, particularly accusations that the Syrian regime had carried out a chemical weapons attack that left hundreds dead.
He told reporters aboard his plane that the US military had provided President Barack Obama with a range of options for possible intervention and forces had been redeployed as required.