In a nine-day trip to Asia, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta will talk to his counterparts on the U.S.’s strategic shift in the region.
Panetta is to reiterate that the U.S. is still a main power in the Pacific region, which has seen an increase in tensions between China and the Philippines over territory in the South China Sea.
“The core of what we’re trying to do in this swing through Asia is give a comprehensive account to everyone in the region about what the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific [region] will mean in practice,” a senior Defense Department official, who was not named, said in a news release.
Panetta has said he would hold meetings with China, but it is unclear if that will take place. He is scheduled to meet with officials from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and then India.
“The secretary has been eager to visit India since assuming his post last summer,” the official was quoted as saying. “U.S.-India defense ties are extremely important in a whole host of ways. Strategically, we see India as a partner with whom we have a lot of common interests and a lot of areas where we can work well together.”