WASHINGTON • US President-elect Donald Trump is committed to enhancing American military power and maintaining its presence in Asia, leaders from the region indicated yesterday, following calls to the winner of Tuesday's presidential election.
There has been concern about what direction the bombastic Republican, Mr Trump, will take in foreign policy after he trash-talked US alliances during his acrimonious election campaign against Mrs Hillary Clinton.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday said he had "warm and frank" talks with Mr Trump over the phone in which the pair "discussed the vital importance of the United States' continued strong presence in our region".
Mr Turnbull, who like Mr Trump has a business background, said the billionaire was "a deal-maker and he will, I have no doubt, view the world in a very practical and pragmatic way".
"Nations have enduring national interests and I have absolutely no doubt the commitment of the United States to the alliance, its presence in the region, its commitment to its allies and our neighbours will continue," Mr Turnbull said.
CONTINUING U.S. PRESENCE
Nations have enduring national interests and I have absolutely no doubt the commitment of the United States to the alliance, its presence in the region, its commitment to its allies and our neighbours will continue. We agreed that that presence has been an absolutely essential foundation of the peace and stability that has enabled the remarkable growth and prosperity, the remarkable economic growth we have seen over the last 40 years. He is proposing a very substantial investment in the United States Navy.
AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL
"We agreed that that presence has been an absolutely essential foundation of the peace and stability that has enabled the remarkable growth and prosperity, the remarkable economic growth we have seen over the last 40 years."
Mr Turnbull added that Mr Trump, who takes charge in 10 weeks, was committed to expanding the US military as he faces up to security threats. "He is proposing a very substantial investment in the United States Navy," he said.
While the two allies found common ground on security matters, it seems the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact, which Australia supports, is doomed. The deal between 12 Asia-Pacific countries has been signed but not yet ratified by lawmakers in the US, and with Mr Trump running his campaign on an anti-free trade message, Mr Turnbull admitted it did not look good.
"We did discuss, briefly, the TPP and I explained why Australia supported its ratification to him," he said. "We agreed that we could refer to the fact that we had had the discussion, but I think his views on that treaty are well known."
In a separate telephone conversation with South Korean President Park Geun Hye, Mr Trump said he agrees "100 per cent" on the need to preserve a security alliance that has, for decades, acted as a deterrent to the regime in North Korea.
Mr Trump made the comments yesterday during a 10-minute phone conversation with Ms Park, South Korea's presidential office said in a statement.
"We are with you all the way and we will not waver," Mr Trump was quoted as saying in the statement. "We will be steadfast and strong with respect to working with you to protect against the instability in North Korea."
Ms Park said she hoped Mr Trump would visit South Korea at an early date, her office said.
During their conversation, Mr Trump said he thought highly of South Korea-made products he purchased as a real estate developer, according to the statement.