Panetta to tout US shift to Asia at Asean defence talks
BANGKOK (AFP) - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will outline Washington's strategic shift to the Pacific and a tentative rapprochement with Myanmar when he meets Friday with his Asian counterparts at a conference in Cambodia, officials said.
Wrapping up a week-long tour of Southeast Asia that comes before President Barack Obama visits the region next week, Mr Panetta will join 10 fellow defence ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Cambodian resort of Siem Reap.
In his talks, Mr Panetta is expected to discuss America's careful steps toward reopening ties with Myanmar's military as well as Washington's bid to "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific.
The US tilt to Asia as well as warming relations with Myanmar reflect a concerted effort by the Obama administration to assert American influence in the face of China's growing economic and military might.