Rumsfeld lauds growing Asian security networks
Sat Jun 3, 2006 12:25am ET
By Paul Eckert, Asia Correspondent
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Saturday hailed an expanding network of multilateral security co-operation in Asia as a "welcome shift" in a region that has lacked institutions like NATO in Europe.
Joint actions against terrorism and piracy and disaster relief helped flesh out an Asian regional system that had long been based on U.S. bilateral alliances, the Pentagon chief told defense officials and experts gathered in Singapore.
"Now we see an expanding network of security co-operation in this region, both bilaterally between nations and multilaterally among nations, with the United States as a partner," he said.
"We see his as a welcome shift," Rumsfeld told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue in this Southeast Asian city-state.
The Pentagon has built close ties to Asian countries ranging from Mongolia to Vietnam, reached out to China and dramatically overhauled America's linchpin alliances with Japan and South Korea, he said.
Rumsfeld used last year's Shangri-La forum to sound the alarm about China's rising military spending and secrecy about its budget and strategy, angering Beijing.
Revisiting that theme gently on Saturday, he said the Chinese had the right to spend on the military as they saw fit but would "benefit by demystifying to some extent the reasons why they are investing in what they are investing in."
With China's growing economic importance, "over time it will be in their interest to be reasonably transparent" and erase suspicions among its neighbors, he said.