US welcomes Japan-Australia pact

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A senior US Navy commander in Asia has welcomed an agreement by Japan and Australia to tighten military co-operation that will bolster the United States and its allies in a region where China's influence is growing.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Tuesday agreed in principle on a Reciprocal Access Agreement more closely aligning them through a legal framework that will allow each other's troops to visit for training and to conduct joint operations.

"That kind of agreement is really helpful and encouraging to everybody in the region. We are very supportive of that agreement and look forward to exercising along right with them," Vice Admiral William Merz, commander of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet, said during a roundtable briefing in Tokyo.