As we work for a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons, we're also strengthening defense cooperation in the Asia Pacific region. Unlike Europe, where our security cooperation takes place through the NATO Alliance, America's security cooperation in Asia takes place largely through bilateral defense relations.UPDATE: Singapore gets basing rights in the U.S.?
America places the highest value on these partnerships. We're committed to strengthening our existing partnerships and to building new ones. With Japan, we continue to work closely to field a missile defense system to protect both our countries and others in the region from rogue regimes threatening blackmail and/or destruction. With South Korea, we have upgraded our deterrent capabilities, while reducing our footprint and repositioning U.S. troops stationed in the country. With Australia, we're working to improve joint training of our forces, and increase cooperation in areas such as intelligence and missile defense research. With the Philippines, we're working to improve the capabilities of the nation's armed forces to fight terrorism and other threats. With India, we signed an historic agreement to expand defense cooperation, increase joint exercises and improve intelligence sharing. With Vietnam, our Navy has made four port calls over the past three years, the first visits by U.S. military ships since the Vietnam War. And with Singapore, we signed a new strategic framework agreement that provides for joint military exercises and cooperation in military research and development.
By building new defense relationships and strengthening existing alliances, we are ensuring that the forces of freedom and moderation in this region can defend themselves against the forces of terror and extremism.
In addition to these bilateral defense relationships, America welcomes the growing multilateral security cooperation in this region. Today, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are coordinating patrols in the Strait of Malaka, and working to combat terrorism, piracy and human trafficking. Through the Proliferation Security Initiative, 80 countries are cooperating to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction and related materiel through air, land and sea.
APEC members know that advancing trade and opportunity throughout the Pacific requires safe travel and transport, so we will continue to work together to improve the security of our ports and airports and transportation routes.
With all these efforts, the nations of this region are answering the threats of the 21st century. And in doing so, we are laying the foundation of security and peace for generations to come. In the long run, the surest path to security is the expansion of liberty and freedom. History shows that free societies are peaceful societies. Democracies do not attack each other. Governments accountable to voters focus on building roads and schools, not weapons of mass destruction. Young people who have a say in their future are less likely to search for meaning in extremism. And nations that commit to freedom for their people don't support terrorists and extremists, but, in fact, will join together to defeat them.
America is committed to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism. We will take the side of democratic leaders and reformers. We will support the voices of tolerance and moderation across the world. We will stand with the mothers and fathers in every culture who want to see their children grow up in a caring and peaceful society.
We recognize that every democracy will reflect the unique culture and history of its people. Yet, we recognize that there are universal freedoms, that there are God-given rights for every man, woman and child on the face of this Earth. The people of Asia have faith in the power of freedom because you've seen freedom transform nations across your continent.
At the beginning of World War II, this side of the Pacific had only two democracies: Australia and New Zealand. Today, millions of Asians live in freedom. Freedom has unleashed the creative talents of people throughout Asia. Freedom has helped prosperity sweep across the region.
In all that lies ahead, the people of this region will have a partner in the American government and a friend in the American people. Together, the people of America and Asia have endured dark and uncertain hours. Together, we've seen modern nations rise from the rubble of war and launch dynamic economies that are the envy of the world. Together, we will confront the challenges of the new century and build a more hopeful and peaceful and prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren.
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