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U.S.: 'No Desire' For New Military Bases In Asia

A top U.S. military commander say the United States wants a greater military presence in Southeast Asia but not military bases there.

The chief of the Pacific Command, Admiral Robert Willard, said recent decisions to base some U.S. troops in Australia and dock naval vessels in Singapore would allow the United States to rotate forces through the region more easily, but without the costs of maintaining bases there.

He indicated the United States was seeking something similar with the Philippines.

"There is no desire nor view right now that the U.S. is seeking basing options anywhere in the Asia-Pacific theater," he told reporters in Washington.

Willard noted that media and public discussion of the U.S. strategy in Asia portrayed the policy as being aimed at China, with its fast-growing military budget and assertiveness over maritime territory claims in contested waters of the South China Sea.

But the admiral said the Pacific Command's primary mission was protecting sea lanes in the South China Sea that carry $5 trillion in commerce annually, including $1.2 trillion in trade with the United States.

Compiled from agency reports