'US' rebalancing strategy not aimed at containing China'
Washington: The US is working with India to deepen defence co-operation as part of its new rebalancing strategy in Asia which is not aimed at containing China, a top Pentagon official has said.
The Obama administration is "building on the good work of the Clinton (Bill) and Bush (George W) with our friends in India to deepen our defence co-operation through the path-breaking Carter-Menon initiative," Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Mark Lippert said.
Lippert was speaking on "The Rebalance: One Year Later" organised jointly by CSIS-Georgetown-US Studies Centre on Wednesday.
The Pentagon official also tried to assuage China over the policy. Beijing has criticised the rebalance as encirclement of the rising Asian power and says the US policy has emboldened Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam in longstanding territorial rows with China that intensified in 2012.
The rebalance, Lippert said, is not zero-sum game with Beijing or a contain China strategy. In fact, a strong bilateral relationship with China is an important part of the balance, he argued.
"As you saw from Secretary Panetta's 2012 visit to China, the Defence Department is seeking additional ways to work with China on a range of mutual inter front --- inviting them to the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, facilitating operational level talks, and increasing senior level engagement," he said.
As part of its rebalancing strategy, the US is revitalising and maturing its partnerships throughout the region - updating them to the meet the security challenges of the 21st century, Lippert said.
He also cited steps that the US has taken to strengthen its relationship with Thailand, India, Burma, Malaysia and New Zealand among others.
"While we are updating and modernising our alliances in Northeast Asia, we are also exploring innovative rotational presence options elsewhere in the Asia Pacific, particularly Southeast Asia and Australia," he added.
Lippert said the rebalance means that a higher proportion of assets will be in the Pacific.
"This means 60 percent of our Navy fleet home-ported in the Pacific by 2020," he said.