Australia, Japan join United States infrastructure push in Asia

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo centre US. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Minister for Defence Marise Payne

The US "will never seek domination in the Indo-Pacific", said Pompeo, "and we will oppose any country that does". "Look how bad WTO is to U.S.".

A diplomatic strategy needs specifics - like partner governments and a scope of focus. Others choose to behave differently. "This is key to global peace", Mr Pompeo said. "I think the others are beginning to see that as well", he said.

Australia and Japan have joined the United States in a push to invest in infrastructure projects in the Indo-Pacific region, Reuters reports, citing a statement from the three nations.

The US recently renamed its oldest and largest military command - the Pacific Command - to Indo-Pacific Command, in a largely symbolic move to signal India's importance. "It also highlights the distinction between China's approach of bold and grand government-led initiatives and the much more modest role of the United States government".

Pompeo said the United States has signed a $350 million investment compact with Mongolia to develop new sources of water supply.

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"A free and open Indo-Pacific is America's chosen course - and we hope that it will be yours too", he said.

Early in his presidency, Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a key free trade deal in the region.

That work will continue, he maintained, as "it is clearly in America's strategic interest to deepen engagement in the Indo-Pacific region".

"We will draw on all of these to grow sustainable and secure energy markets in the Indo-Pacific", he said.

Speaking to business leaders in Washington, Pompeo said the U.S. would invest US$113m in digital economy, energy and infrastructure in the region and double the government's development finance capacity to US$60bn. Still, he frequently sought to frame USA companies as the better partners for countries seeking foreign investment.

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The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today said by a "free and open Indo-Pacific" the Trump Administration means all nations are able to protect their sovereignty from coercion and enjoy open access to the seas and airways in the region.

The programmes will extend support for the Better Utilisation of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act, to reform, modernise, and more than double development finance capacity, says a White House release. It will highlight opportunities for United States exporters in Asia. It stands for Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy.

"This is meant to be an articulation of a robust policy and engagement from the USA, from the government and from the business community and desire to do so in a way that is collaborative and consultative with our partners and counterparts across the region", she said. Areas highlighted cover skills training, infrastructure, development, and people-to-people exchange, including tourism and education.

Pompeo will also announce funding to support Asean through US-Asean Connect, the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) forum and the Lower Mekong Initiative, as well as announcing a first-ever US contribution to the Indian Ocean Rim Association, the senior policy adviser explained.

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