U.S. President Barack Obama called for the full implementation of 2011 plan to station U.S. troops in Australia and backed the ambitious goal of negotiating the free trade Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, when he called up incoming prime minister Tony Abbott, on Wednesday night, to congratulate him.
A White House statement issued on Thursday said; the President and Prime Minister-elect discussed ways to further strengthen the U.S. - Australia alliance. This includes implementation of the force posture initiatives announced by the United States and Australia. During a visit to Australia in Nov 2011, Obama had said that more than 2,500 marines would move by 2016-17 to the northern city of Darwin.
It was part of Obama's so-called US "pivot" policy of putting a greater emphasis on Asia.
During the conversation, Abbott and Obama also backed the ambitious goal of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal that would span much of Asia, by the end of the year, the White House statement said. Obama and Abbott also shared "grave concern" over charges that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, the statement said.
The U.S. president also spoke to his close ally, the outgoing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Obama thanked Rudd "for his friendship, leadership and unflinching support of the US-Australia relationship" and his "strong position" on Syria.
It may be noted that the incoming Prime Minister Abbott has not shared the strong sentiments of his predecessor, about punishing the Syrian government for alleged chemical weapon use. Abbott had termed the civil conflict in Syria as not one involving "goodies versus baddies but baddies versus baddies."
Explaining his position Abbott had said that the civil war was between "two deeply unsavoury sides," and that's why he said, "we should be very careful about involvement in anything that would end up making a bad situation worse." However, he also clarified that the general disposition of the Australian Government, whether Labor or Coalition is to be supportive of the United States and other allies.
As one its closest ally, Australia has joined the United States in conflicts including in Vietnam and Iraq.
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