“The United States recognizes that the Asia-Pacific region is becoming more important in our economic and diplomatic and security interests."
“The United States recognizes that the Asia-Pacific region is becoming more important in our economic and diplomatic and security interests,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said recently when holding a press briefing en route to Japan, China and New Zealand. “This is my third trip to the region . . . as Secretary of Defense. And it's an opportunity to further advance our strategy of rebalancing towards the Asia-Pacific.”
The U.S. defense alliance with Japan is the cornerstone of security and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. “Japan [and the United States are] making new investments for the 21st century,” Secretary Panetta said. “[We are] implementing a realignment roadmap, enhancing our cooperation and ballistic missile defense, and talking about roles, missions, and capabilities of the Japan self-defense forces.”
The purpose of Secretary Panetta’s visit to China is to deepen the military-to-military relationship and continue efforts to build a cooperative partnership between the United States and China. "It is in both our nations’ interest to work towards a healthy, stable, reliable and continuous military–to-military relationship,” said Secretary Panetta. “I think we've begun some good efforts to try to move this in the right direction, and I look at this trip as an opportunity to advance that relationship even further.”
Secretary Panetta’s visit to New Zealand is a first by a U.S. Secretary of Defense in 30 years. “[New Zealand is], in my experience, a very steadfast and a very valued partner to the United States, and we deeply appreciate the role that [New Zealand has] played in Afghanistan and the sacrifice that they've made,” Secretary Panetta said. “The purpose of my trip [to New Zealand] is to see what opportunities exist to try to deepen our defense cooperation.”
“The rebalance is really about maintaining and strengthening,” Secretary Panetta said. “Not just our presence but also maintaining and strengthening a system of rules and norms and institutions in Asia that have brought decades of security and prosperity to the region and have allowed many nations to thrive.”