Panetta to Highlight Regional Cooperation in Asia

WASHINGTON, Oct. 20, 2011 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta is sched­uled to depart tomor­row for Indone­sia, Japan and South Korea, his first vis­it to Asia as head of the depart­ment, senior defense offi­cials said today.

Dur­ing the first leg of his trip, Panet­ta is sched­uled to meet Indone­sian Pres­i­dent Susi­lo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono and Defense Min­is­ter Purnomo Yus­giantoro. Those dis­cus­sions will focus on the Indone­sian armed forces’ con­tin­u­ing trans­for­ma­tion, as well as U.S.-Indonesian mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion in areas includ­ing mar­itime secu­ri­ty, peace­keep­ing, human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance and dis­as­ter relief, a senior offi­cial said.

While in Indone­sia, the sec­re­tary also will vis­it a gath­er­ing of defense min­is­ters from the Asso­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Nations, the offi­cial added. ASEAN mem­ber nations are Brunei Darus­salam, Cam­bo­dia, Indone­sia, Laos, Malaysia, Myan­mar, the Philip­pines, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and Viet­nam.

The ASEAN min­is­te­r­i­al offers Panet­ta a “won­der­ful” oppor­tu­ni­ty for high-end engage­ment with the assem­bled min­is­ters and a chance to empha­size the Unit­ed States’ com­mit­ment to the South­east Asia region, the offi­cial said.

After leav­ing Indone­sia, Panet­ta will trav­el to Japan to meet with Japan­ese Prime Min­is­ter Nao­to Kan and oth­er senior Japan­ese lead­ers, includ­ing new Defense Min­is­ter Yasuo Ichikawa, a sec­ond senior offi­cial said.

The secretary’s meet­ings in Japan include a “rich agen­da of issues,” such as the endur­ing U.S. com­mit­ment to its alliance with Japan, region­al secu­ri­ty, arms sales, export con­trols, bal­lis­tic mis­sile defense, and the planned realign­ment of U.S. forces there, the offi­cial said.

Panet­ta also is sched­uled to vis­it U.S. and Japan­ese troops dur­ing his stop there.

Panetta’s final sched­uled stop is South Korea where he will take part with Defense Min­is­ter Kim Kwan-jin in the 43rd Secu­ri­ty Con­sul­ta­tive Meet­ing, and also meet with Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak and senior South Kore­an offi­cials.

The sec­re­tary is sched­uled to vis­it U.S. and South Kore­an troops dur­ing the final leg of his trip.

“The sec­re­tary will rein­force our com­mit­ment to the U.S.-[Republic of Korea] alliance, as well as our com­mit­ment to deter North Korea and, if deter­rence fails, to pre­vail in any con­flict,” the offi­cial said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)