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Hagel wraps up defense talks with Asian allies

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ROBERT BURNS | August 29, 2013 03:38 AM EST | AP


BANDER SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei — With the Syria crisis shadowing his weeklong Asia tour, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is wrapping up talks on ways of deepening defense ties in southeast Asia.

At a news conference Thursday, Hagel reiterated that if military action were taken against Syria it would be an "international collaboration."

Hagel was flying later Thursday to the Philippines. Washington and Manila have begun negotiating a plan to increase rotational U.S. troop deployments to the Philippines.

The Pentagon chief has kept in touch with Washington by phone and other means as President Barack Obama contemplates a military strike on Syria, with orders that would flow through Hagel to U.S. commanders in the field.

Hagel is due back in Washington on Friday.