The US is looking to use the Australian-administered Cocos Islands – a group of tiny coral atolls in the Indian Ocean – to launch unmanned drones as it continues its strategic pivot away from the Middle East towards Asia Pacific.The move comes amid concerns that the main US launching point in the Indian Ocean – the British island territory of Diego Garcia – is overcrowded and that the base's future is uncertain. The US lease is due to expire in 2016. The plan to use the Cocos Islands is part of ongoing efforts by Washington to boost military ties with Canberra and use the Australian territory. The Cocos Islands are a group of 27 small coral islands halfway between Australia and Sri Lanka – about 1,700 miles east of Diego Garcia – and would significantly add to the US's reach across the Indian Ocean.
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