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US Reconfirms Commitment to Asia Pacific Region


The commander of the United States forces in Asia and the Pacific reconfirmed Washington's commitment to the region and pledged continuing cooperation during a meeting of military commanders on the Indonesian island of Bali. VOA correspondent Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Military commanders from around two dozen Asia Pacific countries along with the defense chiefs of Great Britain, Pakistan, Canada, and France gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali last week to discuss a variety of topics ranging from the fight against terrorism to global warming.

In a recent interview with VOA, the commander of the U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific, Admiral Timothy Keating, who attended the meeting, says the U.S. presence in the region remains crucial.

"We in the United States Pacific Command want to emphasize partnership in everything we do," Admiral Keating said. "We want to assure all of our friends all throughout the region that we'll remain vigorously engaged in exercises, in personal exchanges, in providing educational opportunities to their folks and capitalizing on opportunities they offer to our folks. And as we switch to a new administration that will be one of the main themes that we will hope to address with president-elect [Barack] Obama - is the importance that we will place on peace and stability all throughout the Asia Pacific region."

Keating said the three day talks included regional security, mutual military support, and information and intelligence sharing.

Keating stressed that fighting terrorism remained a top priority and did not expect that to change once Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States in January.

"It concerns the hearts and minds of all our friends and partners throughout our region," he noted. "Indonesia is a great example where their counter terrorism efforts have been fairly lengthy and very effective. So we cited Indonesia as a good example for all the rest of us…I do not think with the new administration that our focus will change here in the Pacific - concentrating on winning the struggle against violent extremism."

Indonesia has arrested and prosecuted hundreds of Islamic extremists during the last several years effectively decimating the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is blamed for a series of deadly terrorist attacks from 2000 to 2005 that claimed the lives of hundreds.

The most deadly of those attacks happened on the resort island of Bali in 2002 and killed 202 people, many of them foreign tourists. Three members of JI who were convicted of planning and carrying out the Bali bombings were executed earlier this month.

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