Obama has finally made it to Australia, after twice postponing his mission there. He plans to update a 60 year old security alliance during his 28 hour visit. His visit is intended to stress the important of economic and strategic ties between Australia and the United States, while moving out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Purpose of the Visit
As Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes explained while on Air Force One, this new plan “will speak to the deepening cooperation between the United States and Australia.” He continued by saying,
“It’s in response to Australia’s interest in pursuing that cooperation, and it will enable the US to have greater geographic balance in the Asia-Pacific region, it will enable us to respond to a range of interests in the Pacific region as well.”
Obama will be talking with Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Wednesday. He will then address parliament on Thursday.
On Thursday, Obama will be in Darwin where he will announce a deployment plan for US marines to an Australian base near the northern city. From Australia, Obama will be heading to Indonesia for Saturday’s East Asia Summit.
As Rhodes explained, “There’s a range of factors that leads us to want to increase our cooperation with Australia, and ensure that we have an appropriate military posture in the Asia-Pacific.”
While some have wondered if the strengthening of ties between the US and Australia is supposed to send a signal to a rising China, Gillard insists that this is not the purpose. As Gillard said,
“I think it is well and truly possible for us, in this growing region of the world, to have an ally in the United States and to have deep friendships in our region, including with China.”