Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith, and Minister for Defence Joel Fitzgibbon met in Washington D.C. on April 9, 2009 to further the United States-Australia alliance and to discuss global and regional security issues. The talks marked the 24th anniversary of the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) and 58 years of strategic partnership under the ANZUS alliance.
The 2009 AUSMIN, the first such meeting under the Obama Administration, confirmed the strength and contemporary relevance of the U.S.-Australia alliance in strategic, security, military, and foreign policy fields. The discussions reaffirmed the commitment of both countries to work together closely to support their common interests and to achieve their shared objectives.
The United States and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. Noting the recently released Afghanistan and Pakistan strategic policy review undertaken by the United States in cooperation with allies, the two countries agreed on the importance of a comprehensive approach to regional challenges. They endorsed the Chairman's Statement of the March 31 International Conference on Afghanistan in The Hague. The two countries agreed on the continuing priority attached to curbing the ability of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups to operate in the region. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together to give the Afghan people the means to secure their own future, particularly by building the capacity of the Afghan National Army and Police.
The United States and Australia reinforced their commitment to working with the democratic government in Pakistan to support security and stability. They discussed the increased security concerns in Pakistan, especially on the border with Afghanistan, and pledged continued support for capacity building among Pakistan's security forces in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Both countries noted the importance of strong support by the international community for Pakistan. They agreed the April 17 Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting and Pakistan Donors' Conference in Tokyo will be important opportunities for the international community to demonstrate the strength of its commitment to helping Pakistan address its many challenges both in the short and long-term.
The two countries remain deeply concerned by Iran's nuclear activities, including continued defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions requiring Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related, reprocessing, and heavy water-related activities and to cooperate fully with the IAEA. While acknowledging Iran's right to civil nuclear energy, they noted that without full transparency and cooperation with the IAEA, the international community is unable to verify that Iran's nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. Australia strongly supported the United States' willingness to engage in direct diplomacy with Iran and encouraged Iran's leaders to respond positively.
Both governments welcomed the steady progress which has occurred in Iraq, where gains in security and stability are now being achieved by the Iraqis themselves. The improved security situation in that country, underpinned by successful provincial elections and legislative progress by Iraq's parliament, has created the conditions for continued Coalition troop withdrawals, a situation made possible by the persistent and courageous efforts of the Iraqis in partnership with the United States and other Coalition partners, including Australia.
The United States and Australia affirmed their goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. The two countries noted the importance of strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) regime and pledged to cooperate closely in the run- up to the 2010 Review Conference. They saw common ground in the work of the International Commission on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament established by Australia and Japan. The United States reiterated its intent to seek the U.S. Senate's advice and consent for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Both countries expressed their commitment to work for negotiations on a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.
The United States and Australia also emphasized the continued need for practical action to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems to states of proliferation concern and to terrorist groups. The two countries reaffirmed their commitment to work together under the Proliferation Security Initiative to counter illicit trade in WMD and missiles. They also pledged to continue coordinating nonproliferation-related outreach and capacity development activities in other countries.
Regional Challenges and Opportunities
The United States and Australia noted the constructive role China has played in addressing the global financial and economic crisis. Both countries seek a positive, cooperative relationship with China, and encourage China to continue to meet contemporary challenges in a constructive manner. They called upon China to increase regional confidence in its intentions, including by pursuing a more transparent approach to military modernization.
The United States and Australia expressed disapproval of North Korea's April 5 launch of a Taepo-dong 2 long-range rocket and made clear that the launch was a threat to peace and security and a violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718. The two countries called on North Korea's leaders to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program, as required by the resolution, and to focus instead on making progress in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the Six-Party Process, including a verification protocol consistent with international standards. They noted the recent announcement by Australia and South Korea on enhanced security cooperation. The United States welcomed this closer relationship between two of its Allies.
The United States and Australia underscored the continued importance of trilateral cooperation with Japan, through the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and the Security and Defense Cooperation Forum. They noted the cooperation and coordination the three countries have accomplished, at both the policy and operational levels, in areas such as counterproliferation, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and counterterrorism.
The United States and Australia welcomed India's continued growth in stature as a country of economic and strategic weight, underpinned by a robust democracy. The two countries expressed their desire to work effectively with India, including in the areas of counterterrorism, nuclear nonproliferation, and other transnational threats.
The United States and Australia noted Indonesia's significant progress in strengthening its democracy, reforming its military, countering terrorist groups, tackling corruption, and promoting regional security. They committed themselves to deeper and broader engagement with Indonesia, particularly on such issues as climate change and the global economic crisis. The United States and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to continue working together with the Philippines to improve military and civilian law enforcement agencies' capabilities to respond to terrorism, combat transnational crime, and promote maritime security. Both countries noted the improved security environment in Timor-Leste and underscored the need for an ongoing UN policing presence, pending the strengthening of Timorese security forces.
The United States and Australia underlined their shared commitment to encourage Vietnam's continuing economic liberalization and legal reform and welcomed Vietnam's increasing international engagement, including as a member of the UN Security Council and as the next Chair of ASEAN. Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to a free and democratic Burma that respects the rights of all its citizens. They agreed to work together in support of that goal.
The United States and Australia confirmed their support for the Pacific Island Forum's call for a speedy return to democracy in Fiji through a genuinely independent and inclusive dialogue process without predetermined outcomes. They noted the April 9 decision by the Court of Appeal in Fiji which underlined that the ousting of former Prime Minister Qarase in December 2006 was invalid. They called for the court's decision to be respected and for democracy to be restored as early as possible with full participation of the Fijian people and all political parties in free and fair elections. The two countries also discussed the Solomon Islands and noted the progress the country has made towards achieving peace and stability. The United States applauded Australia's leadership of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which has been instrumental in sustaining momentum and progress.
The United States and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening trans-Pacific regional cooperation and institutions. Australia welcomed the United States' announcement that it would launch the process to pursue accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and encouraged it to do so. The two countries welcomed the renewed focus on the future of Asia-Pacific regional arrangements following Australian Prime Minister Rudd's initiative for an Asia Pacific community by 2020. They look forward to further discussions, including with other countries, on strengthening multilateral cooperation in the region. They agreed that the proposal and any modifications to the regional architecture should develop in accordance with the political, economic, and security needs of the region.
The United States and Australia agreed to explore opportunities to strengthen bilateral civil-military cooperation, including in addressing the needs of fragile states.
The United States and Australia discussed strategic-level guidance, with Australia soon to release its Defence White Paper and the United States outlining the next steps in the 2009 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The United States welcomed Australia's contribution of an exchange officer to assist with developing the QDR. The two countries welcomed the progress made on enhanced defense cooperation initiatives agreed to at the 2008 AUSMIN, and noted the efforts made by United States Pacific Command and the Australian Defence Force to better align their doctrine and procedures for responding to humanitarian and disaster relief operations, and welcomed the ongoing examination of options to hasten joint responses to these catastrophic disasters in the Asia Pacific region.
Acknowledging the value of interoperability between the two countries' military forces, the United States and Australia welcomed the conclusion of the Joint Combined Training Capability Memorandum of Understanding, which will increase the value and reduce the cost of combined exercises. The two countries noted the Joint Combined Training Capability would be put to good use by the two countries' forces in Exercise Talisman Saber 2009, their largest combined exercise, which will be held later this year in Australia.
Based on the recommendations of a joint study team, the United States and Australia agreed on principles that will guide greater cooperation on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The two countries noted efforts to advance their military satellite communications partnership and discussed proposals to improve mutual capabilities in support of U.S. and Australian deployed forces. They also agreed on principles for enhancing intelligence collaboration and cyber security cooperation.
The United States and Australia endorsed the results of the March 2009 AUSMIN Defense Acquisition Committee report and agreed the next meeting should be held in November 2009 in San Diego. The United States reaffirmed its desire for quick U.S. Senate ratification of the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, which will enhance the two countries' interoperability in defense and counterterrorism activities and improve cooperation on joint research and capability development projects.
Next AUSMIN Meeting
Australia agreed to host the next AUSMIN meeting in 2010.
9 April 2009