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New threats will not distract US from Asia, says Hagel

Published on May 30, 2014 10:47 AM
US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks during the opening of the "National Reading of the Names" ceremony near the Vietnam Memorial in Washington on May 24, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT (REUTERS) - The United States will not be deterred from plans to strengthen its military position in Asia by emerging threats elsewhere, the US defence secretary said on Thursday as he prepared to meet allies in the region worried by an increasingly assertive China.

President Barack Obama, in a keynote foreign policy speech on Wednesday, surprised and disappointed some in Asia when he made no specific reference to what has been a signature policy theme of his administration, the rebalancing of US military, political and economic focus toward Asia.

He talked at length instead about emerging threats, including by militants operating from the North African region.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters en route for Singapore, where he will speak at a regional security forum before heading on to Afghanistan and Europe, that the US commitment to Asia was as strong as ever.

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