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Gates Arrives in Singapore for Asia Security Summit

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SINGAPORE, May 30, 2008 – Arriving here for the 7th annual Asia Security Summit, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today he plans to assure regional allies and friends that the United States hasn’t lost focus on or commitment to the region.

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is greeted upon his arrival in Singapore by (l. to r.) Singaporean Defense Attache Brig. Gen. Richard Lim, Minister of Defense Mr. Teo Chee Hean, and U.S. Ambassador Patricia Herbold on Friday May 30, 2008. Secretary Gates is on a seven-day trip visiting the Pacific and to attend the 2008 Shangri-La Dialogues in Singapore. Defense Dept. photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

It’s a message Gate said will be the overarching theme of his fourth major trip to Asia during his 17 months as defense secretary. In addition to a visit yesterday and earlier today in Guam, the trip will include stops in Thailand and South Korea.

“One theme that connects the different stops is affirming that the United States is not distracted by our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from our long-term interests here in Asia and the cultivation and strengthening of our relationships with allies, partners and others here in the region,” he told reporters before leaving Guam.

Gates will reaffirm here that message during his keynote address tomorrow at the Shangri-La Dialogue, named for the hotel where it is held. The annual summit, sponsored by the London-based think tank International Institute of Strategic Studies, is recognized as a key event for defense and security diplomacy for the region.

Delegations of defense ministers, chiefs of staff and other senior security policymakers from the 27 invited countries will converge for the three-day conference. In addition to a full slate of formal sessions, Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will participate in several bilateral sessions.

Gates’ address at the first plenary session tomorrow will set the stage for the next presidential administration, a senior defense official traveling with the secretary told reporters. Pointing to the longstanding U.S. commitment, Gates will assure regional nations of continued commitment, regardless of who wins the U.S. general election, the official said.

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