US wants to build stronger
ties with RI: Hagel

As a large and democratic country, Indonesia must play a strategic role in maintaining regional order and the United States wants to build a strong relationship with the archipelagic nation, says the new
Pentagon chief.

“As a large, diverse, and democratic country, Indonesia has a key role in helping lead this region,” US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at the first plenary session of The Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Saturday.

Hagel and Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro held bilateral talks on Friday.

“The United States and Indonesia – the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation – are building new habits of cooperation that reflect a shared vision for a peaceful and prosperous region,’ Hagel said in his speech.

“The United States and Indonesia are working together on humanitarian assistance and disaster response preparedness, maritime security, international peacekeeping and combating transnational threats”

Hagel also mentioned that the US wanted to build strong relationships with rising powers such as India, Indonesia and China as part of its pivot or rebalancing to Asia.

The rebalancing, which is basically -- according to Hagel – a diplomatic, economic and cultural strategy, the US would station 60 percent of its naval assets as well as air force assets in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.

It would also station or rotate four littoral combat ships in Singapore. The USS Freedom has already docked in Singapore. It would also rotate 2,500 US marines in Darwin, Australia, every year.
Both Singapore and Australia are Indonesia’s maritime neighbors.

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