By Vienna Ma
CANBERRA, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday said that he remains committed in the Asia Pacific region, as he announced to boost U.S. military presence in Australia.
On his first visit to Australia as president, Obama said Asia Pacific is a region of huge strategic importance to the United States, and insisted that "we are here to stay."
Obama said that Asia Pacific region is absolutely critical for the U.S. economic recovery, as the economy in"the region is going to be the engine for world economic growth for some time to come."
"First and foremost because this is the fastest growing economic region in the world and I want to create jobs in the United States, which means we have got to sell products here and invest here," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
"Even as we make a whole host of important fiscal decisions back home, this is right up there at the top of my priority list. And we are going to make sure that we are able to fulfill our leadership goal in the Asia-Pacific region."
In a joint media conference with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the pair announced the two countries have agreed to increase joint military initiatives to enhance the alliance between the two countries, which will see the United States to boost its military activities in Australia from 2012.
The move reflects U.S. efforts to reaffirm and diversify its presence in Asia, with Gillard saying that the arrangement will allows better respond to humanitarian assistance and dealing with natural disasters.
According to Lowy Institute Director of Studies, Andrew Shearer, Obama's trip to Australia highlights predictions of America's decline in the Asia Pacific region are premature.
"The United States is a Pacific power and remains committed to full engagement in the political, economic and military affairs of Asia," he said in a statement.
The new arrangements also marks a significant evolution in the U.S.-Australia alliance, with Obama on Wednesday indicated "U.S. has no stronger ally than Australia, bound by common values and rights."
Gillard noted Australia and the U.S. have been allies for 60 years, comrades in arms for decades before that and friends for even longer.
"We share a long history but we know it is a history defined, more than anything else, by our shared, restless, forward questing, " she said, adding "defined always, then and now, by the things we do together to honor our national pledges, to be young and free, to be home to the brave."
Earlier, Obama announced leaders of nine Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries, including Australia and the United States, have reached a broad agreement on the free-trade pact, Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The agreement sets out to eliminate all tariffs and introduce new uniform labor and intellectual property standards across the Asia-Pacific, targeting to boost trade and economy across the region.
On Thursday, Obama will visit Australian War Memorial, address the parliament and will travel to Darwin, Northern Territory of Australia before leaving Australia to the East Asia Summit in Bali of Indonesia.