Rice says US has not neglected Asia

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has hit back at criticism Washington has taken its eye off China's rising influence, saying the United States had worked hard to strengthen relations in Asia.

Rice says US has not neglected Asia
Rice, in Australia for an Asia-Pacific summit, also said the White House's policy in Iraq was winning the hearts and minds of local people.

In an interview on Australia's ABC television, Rice dismissed comments from former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage that Washington was so distracted by the war in Iraq that it was ignoring Asia to the strategic advantage of China.

"The United States has been extremely involved in Asia," Rice said in the interview broadcast late Wednesday.

The US had good and improving relationships with Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand and one of the strongest relationships with China of any administration, she said.

"We have very strong economic relationships, security relationships, we are expanding our cooperation with organisations like APEC and ASEAN.

"I think the administration has put a lot of time and energy into Asia and it is paying off."

Rice, who accompanied President George W. Bush on a surprise trip to Iraq's Anbar province on the way to Australia, said the surge of additional forces was working.

"Yes, the going is tough. But the security situation is improving," she said. "We are fighting them for the hearts and minds of the people as well," Rice added.

"As I mentioned, I was just in Anbar. We've won the hearts and minds of people in Anbar because they have seen the ugly face of Al Qaeda. They know what Al Qaeda means."

"If you think Al Qaeda won't fight back, they will. But these are people (in Anbar) who are now experiencing economic reconstruction and development, who are asking for schools for their children."

Last Mod: 06 Eylül 2007, 11:50
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