Top Australian and US officials sat down Wednesday for bilateral defence talks that will underline the military "pivot" that President Barack Obama wants to make away from the Middle East and towards Asia.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defence Secretary Leon Panetta are in the west-coast city of Perth for talks with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Minister Bob Carr.
The focus will be Obama's pivot plan, announced on his visit to Australia a year ago, and its origins in China's growing military might.
"In the 21st century it's important that we make absolutely clear we're here to stay," Clinton said before the start of the annual talks.
Speaking Tuesday at the launch of a new international affairs think tank, she said she welcomed the peaceful rise of China and the prospect there of a "political system that will more closely give the Chinese people the opportunities that we in the United States and Australia are lucky enough to take for granted."
She also encouraged the rise of India and its security role in the region.
"We would welcome joint Australian-Indian naval vessel exercises in the future," Clinton said. "It's exciting to see the developments as the world's largest democracy and a dynamic emerging economy begins to contribute more broadly to the region."
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