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Expert expects Obama to announce strategic plan in Australia

11-02-2011 16:24 BJT

By Vienna Ma

CANBERRA, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama might find his visit to Northern Territory (NT) of Australia a perfect opportunity to announce a strategic plan involving Australia, South Korea and Japan, a foreign and defense policy expert told Xinhua in a recent interview.

According to Associate Professor Wayne Reynolds from University of Newcastle, Obama's upcoming visit to Australia in November comes at a time when the U.S. is under pressure to assert its primary role in Asia.

"From the U.S. standpoint, this will be an attempt to regain the initiative in Asia since it lacks the economic leverage that it once had," Professor Reynolds said.

Expectations are growing that Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will make a significant joint announcement about an increase in U.S. military presence in the NT, described by Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith as "more troops in, troops out, more planes in, planes out and more ships in, ships out."

However, Professor Reynolds expected the in-principle discussions about closer co-operation allowing more U.S. troops bases in Australia would take place over an even longer time frame.

Instead, he anticipated that Obama might find the occasion of his visit a perfect time to make announcement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership plan involving Australia, South Korea, and Japan.

"If this occurs it will be couched as a geo-strategic initiative rather than a narrowly focused economic or trade proposal," he said.

While the status of India as a security partner and potential nuclear partner remains a pressing security concern for U.S., Professor Reynolds said the issue is likely to be discussed by the two leaders, when Obama will "almost certainly add his weight to the pressure to have Australia approve the export of uranium as part of civil nuclear."

He also expected Obama to make a statement on the importance of Indian Ocean and energy security, as a basis for increasing U.S. naval basing rights in Western Australia.

Professor Reynolds warned Australia to be mindful of the importance of trade issue when making any announcement on quasi- strategic agreements.

"It will be important that any regional arrangement for security is both comprehensive and inclusive," he said.

The U.S. president's visit to Australia on Nov. 16 and 17 will mark the 60th anniversary of the military alliance between Australia and the United States. This will be Obama's first visit since he became U.S. president.

During his trip in Australia, he will address the parliament and visit Darwin of NT, while en route to the East Asia Summit in Bali of Indonesia.

Editor:Wang Xiaomei |Source: Xinhua

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