Pentagon says U.S. will remain Asian power

SINGAPORE- Washington will remain committed to Asia no matter who wins this year's U.S. presidential election, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the region's decision makers on Saturday.

His message at a conference of Asian security and defense officials appeared intended both to reassure allies and serve as a statement of intent to China, following Beijing's rise in economic and military power in recent years.

"As someone who has served seven United States presidents, I want to convey to you with confidence that any future U.S. administration's Asia security policy is going to be grounded in the fact that the United States remains a nation with strong and enduring interests in this region," Gates said.

"I can assure you that the United States -- because of our interests and because of our values -- will not only remain engaged, but will become even more so in the decades ahead," the former Central Intelligence Agency chief said.

Speaking at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue forum in Singapore, Gates tried to strike a balance in comments on China. U.S. officials said he wanted to make Washington's views clear without creating an open confrontation with Beijing.

Gates offered praise, citing Beijing's "valued cooperation" in North Korean nuclear talks, and avoided direct criticism.

But he also alluded to subjects which have been contentious, such as repeated U.S. calls for greater transparency in Chinese military budgets.

Japan's Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba also called on China to be clearer about its spending and intentions.


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