Obama to announce military pact with Australia during visit

President Obama is slated to unveil a pact with Australia to expand its military presence there as part of the administration's pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.

Obama and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will announce a plan to allow U.S. Marines to use local bases for training and amphibious exercises, The Washington Post reports. Obama's scheduled address to Australia's parliament in Canberra is expected to be his "anchor speech" to outline the goal of an American presence in the region, The Post reports.

In September, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the forthcoming deal would "send a clear signal to the Asia Pacific region"-referring to China's expanding naval presence there-"that the United States and Australia are going to continue to work together to make very clear to those that would threaten us that we're going to stick together."

U.S. policymakers hope the trip allows them to make the "pivot to Asia" they have been promising since Obama took office in 2009 but which was sidetracked by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic crisis in Europe. Obama's trip is his most visible attempt to strengthen and showcase the new architecture of a Pacific-looking foreign policy.

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