Date: Wed, 14 Jan 1998 04:06:54 -0500
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From: Alex G Bardsley <bardsley@ACCESS.DIGEX.NET>
Subject: Fwd: US calls for unrestricted presence (StraitsTimes)
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US calls for unrestricted presence
By Brendan Pereira in Kuala Lumpur, in Staits Times,
13 January 1998
US DEFENCE Secretary William Cohen yesterday called for a flexible
and unrestricted American military presence in the region.
He also said that the superpower needed access to ports, logistical
support and training facilities here.
Speaking at the Fourth Pacific Dialogue, he said: "We look to our
friends to contribute to regional security by helping to further
solidify our presence by keeping us anchored in the region."
In his speech, which touched on security arrangements, he rejected
a proposal floated by certain Asean countries that there be advance
notice of US troop movements.
He said that would put an operational constraint on the
100,000-strong US member force in the region. What was important
was to put in place a policy which was flexible and unrestricted.
Mr Cohen told participants that the US was looking at revitalising
its military ties with Australia and stepping up military contacts
"As China's influence grows, the US objective is not to deny
China's rightful place as an Asian power," he said.
Later, at a joint press conference with Malaysian Deputy Prime
Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, he re-asserted the US commitment
to the region.
On his part, the DPM said that there was a consensus that the
presence of the superpower in the region was good.
The Secretary of Defence also commented on concerns that IMF
austerity programmes imposed on several countries in the region in
the wake of the currency crisis would create an anti-US sentiment
Noting that while a backlash was always possible, he said he did
not foresee it happening. Discussions with people in the region
showed that there was still strong support for maintaining a
relationship with the US.
Mr Cohen said that he was aware that some concern had been raised
over whether stiff conditions imposed on countries which sought
help from the IMF would result in anti-US feelings.
What was clear was that these countries had to "repair their
systems". The IMF programmes had the ability of stabilising the
situation in the region, he noted.
He also made it clear that US assistance to countries here will
come under the IMF umbrella.
"I don't anticipate the US doing direct funding," he added.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a growing chorus of
academia and politicians questioning the effectiveness of IMF
A few, such as former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, have
warned that an anti-American backlash could sweep Asia because of
tough measures imposed by the IMF.
At the press conference, Datuk Seri Anwar said that cost-cutting
measures and the deferment of major projects announced on Dec 5
were made after talks with the monetary body.
And these consultations would continue, he said. But Malaysia still
had no intention of seeking financial assistance from the IMF.
The DPM was at pains to express his gratitude to the US over its
show of support for the Pacific Dialogue, an annual meeting of
politicians, academia and businessmen from Asia and the US.
He said that the presence of a 28-strong delegation was very
reassuring and was a clear signal that friendship counted.
Mr Cohen and Datuk Seri Anwar were among the prime movers behind
the birth of the dialogue, now into its fourth year.
The two-day meeting ends today.
Copyright 1997 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.