U.S. committed to Asia security, says Rumsfeld


SINGAPORE, AP

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has promised that the new U.S. administration will maintain a strong security presence in Asia to ensure the region’s stability, officials said Monday.

Meeting with Singapore Defense Minister Tony Tan, Rumsfeld “reiterated the strong U.S. commitment to regional stability,” Singapore’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

“In view of the uncertain situation in Southeast Asia, I stressed that the U.S. military presence there is particularly helpful in contributing to security in our part of the world,” The Straits Times newspaper on Monday quoted Tan as saying.

Rumsfeld met Tan on Saturday on the sidelines of an international security conference held in Munich, Germany over the weekend. Singapore was the only Southeast Asian country represented at the forum, the newspaper said.

Rumsfeld “left me in no doubt that the U.S. would remain strongly committed in our part of the world,” the newspaper quoted Tan as saying.

Singapore’s neighbor country Indonesia is torn by widespread ethnic and separatist violence. Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid, accused of corruption, is under pressure to resign.

Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada was recently forced out of office by massive street protests, and the country is battling separatist Islamic guerrillas in its southern islands.

Tan also talked with Rumsfeld about the need to maintain stability between mainland China and Taiwan, The Straits Times said.