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Ex-Oz PM Fraser says US military 'base' in Darwin is 'mistake'

Sydney, Tue, 24 Apr 2012 ANI

Sydney, Apr 24 (ANI): Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser has said that the new American marine 'base' near Darwin is a mistake, and added that his nation's grovelling to the US is affecting relations with Asia.

Fraser criticised Australia's subservience to the US as a product of misguided assumptions America offers a security guarantee.

"Over 20 years now we have given the impression of doing that which America wants," Fraser wrote in a strongly worded submission to the government's white paper on future relations with Asia.

"We seem to believe that our security can be best assured if we do what we can to win brownie points with the US. This is a mistaken assumption," Fraser wrote.

According to The Sydney morning Herald, Fraser is highly critical of the deployment of US marines in the Northern Territory, saying it fuels Chinese concerns over a policy of containment.

He also dismisses claims by the Australian government and the Obama administration that the presence of the marines does not amount to a 'base'.

"For America to say that 2500 troops do not constitute a base is nonsense, indeed a fabrication. In military terms, a base does not have to be bricks and mortar. If 2500 troops are stationed in a particular place then the language makes it quite plain that they are based in that place. It is a base," Fraser said.

"To say that they are just passing through and that it is not a base is deceptive and misleading. It sends the wrong message, not only to China, but to countries like Indonesia," he added.

He was also concerned Australia would lose more of its independence in Asia should the US turn Cocos Island into a base for unmanned surveillance drones, as earlier reported in The Washington Post. (ANI)

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