'US wants stronger ties with Asian allies'

Updated On: Mar 18, 2005

Washington- The Bush administration, which has often been accused of neglecting its ties with South-east Asian countries, is committed to bolstering its relationship with its allies in the region, said Mr Christopher Hill, the nominee for the post of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“We are committed to bolstering our relationships with our long-standing treaty allies –Japan,South Korea,Australia,Thailandand thePhilippines– and to strengthening our strategic dialogue withSingapore,” Mr Hill said during his confirmation hearing in the US Senateon March 15. If his confirmation is approved, Mr Hill will become the top official overseeingUSforeign policy in the Asia-Pacific.

He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that strongUSlinks with theseAsiacountries had paid off in the wake of the Dec 26 tsunami tragedy.

“The effectiveness ofour response was largely due to the speedy effectiveness of our diplomacy and to the solid military-to-military relationships established over many years in the region,” said Mr Hill, who is the currentUSambassador toSouth Korea.

OnIndonesia, Mr Hill said that it is inUSinterest to make sure that the “large, vital democracy succeeds”.

"We are beginning once again to have close ties with the Indonesian military and it is important that this trend continues.”

TheUSrecently announced the restoration of a training programme for Indonesian soldiers, which had been suspended since 1992.

* Washington wants deeper ties with the East (The Straits Times, March 17)