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Talks indicate delays for buildup

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by Sabrina Salas Matanane

Guam - The writing is on the wall. A special State Department press briefing held via teleconference today in the nation's capitol gives more indication that the planned military buildup for Guam and realignment of forces in Japan will be delayed. It looks like businesses and contractors hoping to cash in on the Guam military buildup will see some delays.

In the nation's capitol the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Meeting (or "2+2") is taking place and reportedly come tomorrow Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto,  Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and outgoing defense secretary Robert Gates will emerge from those talks with a major announcement impacting the military buildup for Guam. The purpose of the 2+2 is to underscore the significance of the U.S. and Japan alliance in the years ahead, and to endorse and release a joint statement and associated documents that advance the alliance.

That joint statement reportedly will include the announcement that the 2014 timeline for completion of the 2006 agreement between the U.S. and Japan outlining the realignment of forces in the region will not be met.

The expected delay comes as Japan recovers from the disasters that struck the country in March and growing criticism from Senate Armed Services Chairperson Carl Levin, Ranking Member John McCain and Senator Jim Webb, who called the plans for Japan and Korea "unworkable, unaffordable and undoable". The three were successful in blocking funding for the realignment of forces in the Senate's version of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.

During today's State Department special briefing, senior administration officials via teleconference told media that they appreciate the senators perspective and understand their frustration but from their perspective they remain committed to the current plan to maintain a forward presence in the region and a forward presence that is geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable.

They added the administration plans to stay with its current approach that has been developed between the U.S. and Japan over the last several years. In terms of tomorrow's anticipated announcement of the delay, during today's teleconference a senior administration said, "I think it does not take a math prodigy to look at the calendar, look at the original timelines that were laid out, look at the progress that has been made, and make a determination about what can and can't be completed between now and 2014. So I think you can expect to see coming out of the meeting tomorrow a readjustment of the timeline going forward in a way that is more realistic and that will allow us to achieve our joint and mutual goals."

When asked by media for a specific new deadline, senior administration officials couldn't provide a direct answer other than they are working with the government of Japan to develop a pathway forward that will allow us to meet our goals and our commitments.

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