Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith, Australian
Minister for Defence Joel Fitzgibbon, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, met in Canberra
on 23 February 2008 for Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN)
consultations. The discussions confirmed the two countries' strong commitment
to the alliance and to working cooperatively to meet common challenges.
Australia and the United States reaffirmed the enduring strength of
the alliance and its firm basis in shared values, high levels of trust
and a record of cooperation and shared sacrifice. Both sides recalled
the long history of defence cooperation, reaching back to the world
wars, and given contemporary resonance by their current overseas commitments.
They noted that ANZUS, strengthened by more than fifty years of cooperation
and invoked for the first time following the 11 September 2001 terrorist
attacks, continues to be the foundation of a dynamic and broad-ranging
security relationship. Both sides agreed that the Australia-United States
alliance will continue to make a valuable contribution to stability
and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and beyond.
The discussions reflected the global dimension of Australia-United
States cooperation with both sides reiterating their commitment to working
together to confront contemporary security challenges, including the
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism. Both
sides underlined that Australia and the United States benefit from substantial
convergence in their strategic and security policy priorities.
Working Together to Meet Common Challenges
Australia and the United States emphasised their commitment to a stable,
united and democratic Iraq. They discussed plans for the mid-year withdrawal
of Australia's battle group from southern Iraq, as well as both sides'
commitment to strengthening the capacity of Iraq's government and improving
conditions for the Iraqi people. Australia and the United States see
the International Compact with Iraq as providing partners the best framework
for contributing to Iraqi self-sufficiency. They called on the international
community, including Iraq's neighbours, to assist Iraq's development
as a peaceful and democratic country.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to stabilisation and reconstruction
efforts in Afghanistan. The hopes of the Afghan people for a stable,
secure and prosperous future depend on the long-term solid support of
the international community. To this end, the United States and Australia
emphasised the importance of working with international partners and
the Government of Afghanistan to develop a comprehensive strategy to
integrate more effectively security, reconstruction and development
activities. They called on the international community, and in particular
NATO members, to sustain and enhance contributions to Afghanistan.
The two countries agreed on the need for constructive, long-term engagement
with Pakistan and discussed the results of recent democratic elections
there. As a key partner for the international community's efforts in
Afghanistan, both sides commended Pakistan for its efforts there and
its work to combat extremism.
Australia and the United States reaffirmed their strong support for
efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East, and in particular for the
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority launched at
the Annapolis Conference. They emphasised their strong desire to see
rapid progress to implement the Roadmap and encouraged both parties
to prevent day-to-day developments from undermining their shared objective
of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement by the end of 2008. Both countries
expressed concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and remain committed
to practical measures to assist the Palestinian people.
The United States and Australia noted with concern the continued political
impasse in Lebanon over the election of a new President. They reaffirmed
their support for an independent and democratic Lebanon free from outside
interference or violence.
Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to working
closely with the countries of Southeast Asia in order to promote regional
prosperity and security. They agreed to continue to build capacity in
Southeast Asia in key areas such as counter-terrorism and maritime security.
Specifically, both sides agreed to assist regional countries to improve
port security and to constrain the movement of terrorist finances.
Australia and the United States noted the importance of increasing,
broad-based engagement with Indonesia as a democratic partner and welcomed
Indonesia'sgrowing role in regional affairs. Both countries are encouraged
by Indonesia's good progress in strengthening democracy, its commitment
to fighting corruption and reforming the military and its strong performance
in combating terrorism. They reiterated their commitment to supporting
Indonesia in these efforts, including by strengthening Indonesian security
and disaster relief capabilities.
The United States and Australia agreed to continue their close collaboration
with the Philippines, including strategic-level efforts such as defence
reform, building capacity and military professionalism.
Both countries welcomed Thailand's return to a democratically-elected
Australia and the United States shared concern over developments in
Burma and the lack of progress towards genuine political reform, national
reconciliation, and a transition to democracy. Both sides called on
the Burmese regime to cooperate with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari in starting
a legitimate dialogue with democratic and ethnic minority groups.
Australia and the United States condemned the 11 February attacks on
East Timor's democratically elected leadership and expressed hope that
President Ramos-Horta would make a speedy and full recovery. Both countries
welcomed the response of the Timorese Government to the crisis. The
two countries reaffirmed their commitment to providing long-term support
to East Timor to address its development and security challenges.
The United States and Australia agreed to consult closely on the evolution
of regional fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, and to build on the
successes of the 2007 APEC summit to enhance APEC's contributions to
regional cooperation. The two countries pledged to continue to work
closely with Japan through the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD),
noting the importance of this and other fora in promoting shared interests
on a range of global and regional issues.
Australia and the United States welcomed China's increased engagement
in regional and global institutions, and encouraged it to continue to
enhance its efforts to address contemporary challenges in a constructive
manner. They encouraged China to further build regional confidence in
its intentions, including by adopting a transparent approach to its
The United States and Australia recognised that India's stature as
a democratic and prosperous country provides a unique opportunity to
advance shared political, economic, and security interests in the region.
The countries highlighted their wish to work effectively with India
to counter terrorism, drug trafficking, and nuclear proliferation. Both
countries noted the significance of the U.S.-India Civil-Nuclear Cooperation
Australia and the United States confirmed their ongoing commitment
to promoting good governance, rule of law, and economic development
in the Pacific. In this regard, they noted the important role the Pacific
Islands Forum plays towards stability in the region. They called upon
Fiji Interim Government Prime Minister Bainimarama to adhere to his
commitment to restore democratic government in Fiji by holding elections
no later than March 2009. Both countries welcomed moves by the Pacific
region to enhance regional law enforcement cooperation, including on
fisheries and maritime law, as reflected in the Pacific Islands Forum
Vava'u Declaration and Leaders' undertaking to examine new multilateral
arrangements for exchange of fisheries law enforcement data and enforcement
cooperation. The United States expressed a keen interest in engaging
in such discussions.
Australia and the United States welcomed progress towards the DPRK's
denuclearisation made under the Six-Party Talks process during 2007.
They reiterated that a declaration of the DPRK's nuclear programs is
an essential step toward the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean
peninsula and urged the DPRK to come forward with a complete and correct
declaration as soon as possible.
Australia and the United States agreed that the illicit transfer and
unauthorised access to man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) by
terrorist and other non-state actors pose an on-going potential threat
to international civil and military aviation. They agreed to continue
their efforts to encourage the international community to adopt and
adhere to strengthened MANPADS counter-proliferation controls, including
implementing United Nations General Assembly resolution 62/40; other
multilateral and regional commitments; offers of assistance to help
countries reduce the vulnerabilities of airports to MANPADS; and involvement
in U.S. stockpile security and destruction programs.
Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to work
in close partnership to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) and their delivery systems. Both countries agreed
on their shared interest in maintaining and strengthening the effectiveness
of the treaty-based WMD regimes including through efforts to ensure
full compliance with obligations. They reaffirmed their support for
the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) as a practical means for
countries to cooperate to disrupt the flow of illicit WMD materials.
The United States and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to the Global
Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. They noted that they looked
forward to expanding activities related to the initiative and assisting
partner nations to implement the Statement of Principles. They underscored
the importance of all Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) parties
working for outcomes from the 2010 NPT Review Conference that reinforce
this vital Treaty. They strongly supported universal implementation
of the Additional Protocol to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
safeguards agreements which would deliver substantial security benefits
to all countries.
Australia and the United States agreed that continuing progress on
nuclear arms reductions plays an important part in maintaining political
support for the NPT. They reaffirmed their commitment to the nuclear
disarmament goals of the NPT. They noted that as the Comprehensive Nuclear
Test Ban Treaty had not entered into force, existing moratoriums on
nuclear testing should be maintained.
The two countries remained deeply concerned by Iran's nuclear activities
including its defiance of UN Security Council resolutions requiring
Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related, reprocessing and heavy
water-related activities and cooperate fully with the IAEA. They agreed
to continue working together and with the international community in
relevant fora to urge Iran to comply fully with its international obligations
and to provide full transparency regarding its nuclear activities, especially
past military involvement in its nuclear program. Both countries underlined
the UN Security Council's important responsibilities in support of a
diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear issue. They noted the recent
limited progress in the IAEA's efforts in Iran but affirmed that the
international community is not yet able to verify that Iran's nuclear
program is solely for peaceful purposes, given Iran's failure to declare
all of its nuclear activities, disclose fully past military involvement
in its nuclear program and permit IAEA verification that it has ceased
Australia and the United States highlighted their interest in further
deepening bilateral defence cooperation.
Both sides took note of the U.S.-Australia Treaty on Defence Trade
Cooperation signed in September 2007 and the good progress being made
in concluding its implementing arrangements. They noted that once ratified,
the Treaty will ease the barriers to how the two countries share defence
technologies, thereby improving interoperability of their defence forces
and enhancing the two nations' security.
Australia and the United States noted the good working-level relationship
between both sides' military forces and improvements in joint training
and interoperability. In that context, they welcomed the forthcoming
Exercise Talisman Sabre 2009. They also welcomed closer cooperation
in intelligence matters, as well as the emergence of new areas of cooperative
endeavour such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Australia and the United States agreed to establish a joint investment
program to develop a combined Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief
capability, with both countries considering it important to enhance
their ability to respond to contingencies in the region. They agreed
to work on the details of the agreement over the coming year.
Both countries noted the significant benefit of working together in
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and agreed to establish
a combined team to pursue options for enhancing collaboration in the
Australia and the United States agreed to finalise negotiations on
a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to the continuation of the Joint
Combined Training Capability, and noted the Joint Combined Training
Capability's significance in reducing the cost and improving the quality
of combined training.
Australia and the United States signed a Statement of Principles establishing
a military satellite communications partnership. Both governments committed
to taking forward the partnership in a manner which benefits the defence
capabilities of the Australian Defence Forces and the U.S. military.
Australia and the United States also agreed on principles for enhancing
aspects of the intelligence relationship.
Next AUSMIN Meeting
The United States agreed to host the next AUSMIN meeting in 2009.