The Washington Post leads its news coverage today with a story that the United States and Australia are planning a major expansion of military ties, including possible drone flights from a coral atoll in the Indian Ocean and increased U.S. naval access to Australian ports. The moves, which are under discussion but have drawn strong interest from both sides, would come on top of an agreement announced by President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard in November to deploy up to 2,500 U.S. Marines to Darwin, on Australia’s northern coast.
The Post report quotes “a senior Australian official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the military talks” saying “in terms of your overall influence in the Asia-Pacific zone, the strategic weight is shifting south. Australia didn’t look all that important during the Cold War. But Australia looks much more important if your fascination is really with the Southeast Asian archipelago.”