Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has moved to quell fears over America’s military presence in the Asia Pacific, saying the country will continue to have a ‘strong’ presence in the region.
Speaking to reporters at the 75th anniversary commemorations of the WW II bombing of Darwin, Mr Turnbull said historically the presence of the US in the region was a positive one, and would continue to be a positive one.
‘The US has been a force for peace and stability in our region ever since the second world war’.
‘We have a strong ally in Washington, and the United States continuing strong presence in our region, which President Trump has committed to, is of vital importance for all of us’, he said.
Mr Turnbull’s reassurance comes after US President Donald Trump’s comments last year, in which he suggested the country’s military could be significantly scaled back in the Asia Pacific, despite China’s disputed island building in the South China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Far from being scaled back, the PM said the US marine presence in Darwin will likely be increased.
‘I expect based on the discussions I’ve had with the President, (is) that the US presence in the region will remain strong and is more likely to be enhanced.
‘General Mattis has been travelling through the region providing very strong reassurance to America’s allies and friends in our region,’ he said.
The Prime Minister also flagged that Australia would be willing to commit more forces to the US-led coalition against Islamic State.
‘We will consider any requests for further support in the Middle East on its merits’, he said.
Source: Sky News