7 hours 41 minutes ago
US secretary of state Hillary Clinton has told an audience in Perth that the American influence on Asia is "here to stay".
Mrs Clinton arrived in Perth yesterday for annual strategy and policy talks with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.
At the launch of a new US-Australasian think tank last night, Mrs Clinton gave a speech about the important relationship between the US, Australia and other countries in the region.
The Perth USAsia Centre will focus on economic, cultural and defence strategies in the region.
Mrs Clinton said the US has always had a presence in the region and considers itself a Pacific power.
She said that presence would only get stronger.
"In the 21st century it's important that we make absolutely clear we are here to stay," she said.
She highlighted the growing importance of India's contribution to the region.
"We would welcome joint Australian-Indian naval vessel exercises in the future," she said.
"It's exciting to see the developments as the world's largest democracy and a dynamic emerging economy begins to contribute more broadly to the region," she said.
Mrs Clinton said that with Australia surrounded by the Pacific and Indian oceans it was no surprise foreign investment was booming in the country.
"The oil, the natural gas, the iron ore produced here that flows through the trade routes to the entire world," she said.
Mrs Clinton said the US supported the peaceful rise of China and hoped to see a gradual opening up of the country.
"And [a] political system that will more closely give the Chinese people the opportunities that we in the United States and Australia are lucky to take for granted," she said.
Mrs Clinton says she wants to see China become a responsible stakeholder in the international community.
Mrs Clinton will today attend the annual AUSMIN talks where the rotation of US marines in Darwin will be among the issues discussed.
She is due to meet Senator Carr and Mr Smith at a venue in Perth's Kings Park.
Human rights activists will stage a protest on the outskirts of Kings Park to coincide with the visit.
Members of organisations, including Amnesty International and Oxfam, will use the meeting to lobby for tough new rules on the international weapons trade.
Ming Yu from Amnesty International says it is a rare chance to send a direct message to Mrs Clinton.
"It was Hillary Clinton that formally announced on behalf of the US in 2009 it would engage in establishing a global arms trade treaty that would basically try to stop weapons falling into the wrong hands," she said.
"So we appeal to Mrs Clinton to ensure she does uphold that pledge she made."
She says they want Mrs Clinton to support a tougher arms treaty at a coming United Nations meeting.
"The purpose of the Arms Trade Treaty is to say that when weapons are likely to fall into the wrong hands, or used to commit serious human rights violations," she said.
"These weapons should not be transferred to that country. So we're asking the US to set a strong example because it is the world's largest arms exporter."
Mrs Clinton has been given the keys to the city of Perth in recognition of her leadership and achievements.