Panetta Vows Stronger US Presence in Pacific

Expresses Hope for Improved Relations with China

Speaking today on a visit to Indonesia, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the US ‘remains a Pacific power” and vowed that the US would “continue to strengthen our presence in this part of the world.”

Panetta met with his Indonesian counterpart Purnomo Yusgiantoro, who is currently facing a growing backlash about the military’s treatment of separatists. Yusgiantoro said he told Panetta “separatism has to be put down” and that Panetta “completely agreed.”

But Panetta largely appeared unconcerned with the killings of Papuan separatists and the talks were for him more about strengthening ties with the Indonesian military, its shoddy human rights record be damned.

To that end the talks reportedly centered around China’s growing influence in the South China Sea, though Panetta did add after the speech that he was quite pleased with China’s response to US weapons sales in Taiwan, and predicted this would mean improved relations with the nation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.