The Asia-Pacific is home to half the world's population, more than half the world's GDP and nearly half of its trade. It is home to key allies and emerging powers. It is also home to booming middle classes and growing economic opportunities and is a region experiencing reductions in poverty without parallel in human history.
I recently traveled to the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia, where I saw firsthand how, in the words of Secretary Clinton, "It's becoming increasingly clear that in the 21st century, the world's strategic and economic center of gravity will be the Asia-Pacific."
While this region is experiencing many gains, there are also many challenges, including arms proliferation, piracy, trafficking and smuggling, natural disasters and regional tensions between powerful countries. A top priority for our Bureau's engagement with partners across the Asia-Pacific is expanding security cooperation throughout the region. The United States is pursuing a three-pronged approach to our engagement, in order to follow through on this renewed focus.
• First, we are broadening and deepening our cooperation with our treaty allies like Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines;
• Second, we are enhancing our new partnerships with emerging players like China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Malaysia; and
• Third, we are playing an active role in regional multilateral institutions like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). We have strengthened our engagement with ASEAN, including establishing a U.S. Mission in Jakarta with a resident Ambassador.
I started my recent trip in the Philippines, where I met with senior civilian and military officials in Manila, to see how best we could broaden and enhance defense and security cooperation and do it in a way that would be benefit both countries. This was a good follow-up to consultations from the recent U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Security Dialogue in Washington. The Philippines has been an effective and reliable partner in both counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations where our military to military cooperation has been greatly enhanced.
In Jakarta, Indonesia, I attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the new U.S. funded barracks at Sentul Peacekeeping Training Center. This facility will help to meet the growing global demand for specialized military and civilian personnel to serve in peacekeeping missions. I also met with senior officials to discuss furthering bilateral political and military cooperation, including Indonesia's recent decision to upgrade its air force with the acquisition from the United States of 24 F-16 aircraft.
In Singapore, I attended the Singapore Air Show 2012 as well as met with senior government officials and industry representatives to discuss defense trade and political-military issues. Afterward, I traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Malaysia has contributed a forty-person medical team that deployed to Bamiyan province in Afghanistan to assist in the transition underway there. Malaysia has also increased its participation in military exercises with the United States, including the Rim of the Pacific biennial naval exercises in 2010 and is expanding its participation this year. The Malaysians are also participating in counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden.
President Obama and Secretary Clinton have stated that the United States is a Pacific power. To that end, the Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, as the main liaison with the Department of Defense, will continue to expand and strengthen our defense and security cooperation across the Asia-Pacific region to promote the values that we all share in a peaceful and prosperous future.