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US ‘indispensable’ in Asia: Singapore PM

US ‘indispensable’ in Asia: Singapore PM

Singapore: The US plays an “indispensable" role in Asia despite the rise of China and India and should be part of any new regional group, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Lee expressed hope Washington will deepen engagement in the region despite pressing domestic issues and worries over Iraq, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

“We believe America plays an indispensable role in Asia in many fields — economic, political, strategic, security," he said at a news conference.

“We’ve been talking about a multi-polar world, but de facto the US is the most powerful nation in the world and will be so for some time to come."

US President Barack Obama, Lee and 19 other world leaders will gather in Singapore from 13-15 November for the annual APEC summit and dialogue with global corporate chiefs.

Lee’s comments came amid a debate in diplomatic circles about the US role in various proposed free-trade zones and economic communities in the region.

At an Asian summit last month in Thailand, Japan spoke of its vision for an East Asian Community and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlined his idea for an Asia Pacific Community.

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