Boosting relations with Southeast Asian countries is an important part in the US’ “pivot” strategy to Asia-Pacific, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in his tour of four ASEAN countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and the Philippines.

At his meetings with Indonesian leaders during his stay in Indonesia on August 26-27, Hagel said a strong Indonesia is good for the region.

The two sides discussed issues relating to regional and global security, including the 2013 Counter Terrorism Exercise, which will be co-chaired by Indonesia and the US this year with the participation of troops from the 10 ASEAN member countries and eight dialogue partners.

Indonesia’s Defence Minister Yusgiantoro affirmed the two countries’ defence relations are at the strongest point ever, reflecting the US ’ recognition of Indonesia as the most important partner in its “pivot” strategy.

The US Defence Secretary arrived in Brunei on late August 27 to attend the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) Retreat and the second ADMM Plus. He will conclude his tour of Southeast Asia with a visit to the Philippines on August 29.-VNA