By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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Independent voices from the TWT Communities
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell on Tuesday defended the Obama administration's new policy called the "pivot" to Asia from critics who say the shift is largely rhetorical and lacks a substantial program to build U.S. military power in the region.
China Defense Minister Liang Guanglie will visit the United States this week and is expected to face questioning on the presence of a Chinese-made mobile strategic-missile launcher that was spotted carrying a new North Korean long-range missile in Pyongyang on April 15.
U.S. and Chinese officials are ironing out a deal to secure American asylum for a blind Chinese legal activist who fled house arrest, and an agreement is likely before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrives this week, a U.S. rights campaigner said Monday.
Myanmar's newly elected civilian government announced Tuesday it will release more than 6,300 prisoners in an amnesty that could help patch up the country's human rights record and normalize relations with Western nations.
With just a little more than two months before the general election in Burma, scheduled for Nov. 7, the United States joined countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic and Slovakia for the creation of a United Nations-led commission to investigate purported war crimes by Burma's military junta.
Mr. Campbell said diplomatically, U.S. aid budgets for Asia have increased and engagement in the region is "much more substantial than in the past," mainly through high-level visits to regional meetings.
"Early indicators underscore the determination to work in this direction," he added, citing recent speeches by President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs.