US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (file photo)
Source: Press TV
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says possible Pentagon budget cuts will not change Washington's role in Asia and the US military will remain in the Pacific.
The top US defense official, who is set to address a security conference in Singapore on the weekend, told reporters during a stop in Hawaii that America's budget deficit and military budget cuts would not affect the US presence in Asia.
“The critical message is that even as we look at potential budget reductions, there is no slackening of the US commitment to our presence in Asia,” AFP quoted Gates as saying on Wednesday.
“We are a Pacific nation, we will remain a Pacific nation, we will remain engaged,” he said, adding, “And we will continue to build relationships with friends, partners and allies in Asia.”
Earlier in November, in an official visit to Australia, Gates elaborated on Washington's plans to expand its military presence in the Asia-Pacific region, but denied that the move is a challenge to China.
The US defense secretary is scheduled to depart for Singapore on Wednesday to attend Singapore's defense summit.
Prior to delivering a speech to the conference on Saturday, Gates is due to meet with his regional counterparts including the defense ministers of China and Japan on Friday.