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WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) – The United States will maintain its commitment to allies in the Asia Pacific region and military relations with partners will remain strong, Admiral Harry Harris, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, said on Tuesday, amid uncertainty over President-elect Donald Trump’s foreign policy.
“I have no doubt that we will continue our steadfast commitment to our allies and partners in the Indo-Asia Pacific,” Harris said at an event held by the publication Defense One.
“The need for and the value of American engagement in the Indo-Asia-Pacific is convincing and it has (been) proven over decades,” Harris said.
Trump’s campaign comments on Japan and nuclear armament and his demand that Japan pay more for the upkeep of U.S. forces on its soil have worried Tokyo about a possible rift in a security alliance with Washington that has been the bedrock of its defense since World War Two.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to meet Trump in New York this week as Tokyo and other allies seek clarity on the direction the Republican political novice wants to take on diplomatic relations after comments on the campaign trail that were at odds with longstanding U.S. policies.
Harris added that he was concerned by some statements made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, but that it had not had an impact on bilateral military relations.
The tough-talking Duterte has been incensed by U.S. concerns about a drugs crackdown he says is needed to save his country from ruin.
He has berated the Obama administration but has expressed a desire to work with Trump. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by James Dalgleish)