US President Obama says Asia-Pacific is key to future

US President Barack Obama has said that the Asia-Pacifc region will play a key role in defining the world's future.

Speaking to the Australian parliament in Canberra, Mr Obama said the US was now turning its attention to the region.

His comments come after Australia agreed to host a full US Marine taskforce in the coming years.

China has questioned the move, which many analysts see as being a counter to Beijing's growing influence.

However, Mr Obama was clear in his message about the role the US would play in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Let there be no doubt: In the Asia-Pacific in the 21st century, the United States of America is all in," he said.

"With most of the world's nuclear powers and some half of humanity, Asia will largely define whether the century ahead will be marked by conflict or cooperation, needless suffering or human progress."

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We'll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries ”

Barack Obama
"As a Pacific nation, the United States will play a larger and long-term role in shaping this region and its future by upholding core principles and in close partnership with our allies and friends."

Mr Obama continued by saying that, as the world's biggest economy, the US was keen to increase its presence in the region and play a bigger role in its development and progress.

At the same time he told the Australian Parliament that the US was working towards getting its own economy back on track.

He said the US had taken some hard decisions to cut is deficit and will continue to do more to ensure that growth rebounded.

China factor
Mr Obama underlined that the alliance between the US and Australia was an indispensable one and had never been stronger.

However, the growing proximity - especially a bigger US military presence in Australia - hasn't gone down well with China.

The US President used his speech in Canberra to emphasise a willingness to cooperate with Beijing and improve communication between the superpowers.

"We've seen that China can be a partner, from reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula, to preventing proliferation," he said.

"We'll seek more opportunities for cooperation with Beijing, including greater communication between our militaries, to promote understanding and avoid miscalculation."

However, Mr Obama called upon the authorities in Beijing to change their policies as well.

"We will do this, even as [we] continue to speak candidly with Beijing about the importance of upholding international norms and respecting the universal human rights of the Chinese people," he added.