U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday emphasized the importance of the Indo-Pacific rim to U.S. strategic interests during an address at the launch of the Perth USAsia Centre, in Western Australia.
The former first lady, in Australia for the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) beginning in Perth on Thursday, told an audience of academics and dignitaries that the Indo-Pacific was at the heart of an American vision of itself as a "pacific power".
Mrs Clinton said, "Increasingly these waters are at the heart of the global economy and a key focus of Americas expanding engagement in the region, what we sometimes call our "pivot to Asia".
The U.S. has been seen as reinvigorating its Pacific interests and relationships as a counter to the rise and influence of regional leaders like India and China, however Mrs Clinton refuted the notion that the 'pivot to Asia' implied a neglect on the part of U.S. administrations obsessed with militant Islam and the ' war on terror.'
"We never actually left Asia, we've always been here, had a presence here and we consider ourselves a pacific power. But in the 21st century its important we make it absolutely clear that we are here to stay and how we think about the Asia pacific, the Indo pacific region is crucial to our future as well as yours."
The U.S. Secretary of State will take part in the annual AUSMIN discussions with counterpart Foreign Minister Bob Carr, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith.