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Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations Joint Communique 2004

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U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer, and Australian Minister for Defence Robert Hill met in Washington on July 7 to discuss global security and the alliance. The discussions confirmed President Bush's recent public assessment that Australia-US relations have never been closer.

Iraq

2. Both countries reaffirmed their determination to work together with the Iraqi people to build a stable, secure and democratic Iraq. They agreed that success in this historic endeavor would be a significant gain in the fight against terrorism. They agreed now was the time for greater not diminished international support for Iraq.

3. Australia and the United States welcomed the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government and agreed on the importance of holding direct democratic elections for a Transitional National Assembly to be held in Iraq by 31 December 2004 if possible, but no later than January 2005. They welcomed the unanimous passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1546 endorsing the timetable for Iraq's political transition, which culminates in the establishment of a constitutionally-elected government by 31 December 2005. They welcomed expressions of international resolve and support to re-establish a stable and prosperous Iraq. They called on the international community, and in particular Iraq's neighbours, to support the reconstruction of Iraq. They reaffirmed their commitment to assist in the training and development of Iraqi security forces.

Combating Terrorism

4. Both countries highlighted the continuing threat of terrorism. They agreed that the global nature of the threat required a global response and that the danger of terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD) posed a major strategic threat. They agreed that the fight against terrorism would be a long one, and would involve diplomatic, law-enforcement, financial, intelligence and military elements.

5. Both sides re-emphasized their strong mutual commitment to combating terrorism and welcomed extensive bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism measures, including law enforcement, customs, financial and border controls, transport security and intelligence. They agreed that South East Asia was a key front in the fight against terrorism and reaffirmed the importance of working with governments in the region against the common threat. They welcomed efforts in the region on this front and applauded the establishment of the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC). They agreed to further strengthen coordination, including through the G-8 led Counter-Terrorism Action Group, in their respective efforts to help South East Asian governments develop stronger counter-terrorism measures, including through capacity building and training.

Nonproliferation

6. Australia and the United States agreed that stronger international cooperation and action was needed to prevent the spread of WMD. They committed to practical measures to further strengthen the counter-proliferation architecture, including bolstered treaty regimes; better implementation of export controls and improved securing of sensitive materials.

7. Australia and the United States agreed to build on the successful Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to interdict the flow of weapons and materials of mass destruction and their delivery systems, noting its contribution to positive non-proliferation developments. They emphasized that further efforts were required to bring Iran and North Korea into compliance with their international obligations. The United States welcomed Australia's decision to participate in the Global Partnership Initiative and its contribution to help dismantle decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines.

Regional Cooperation

8. The United States and Australia reaffirmed the importance of the US-Australia alliance and a continued strong U.S. presence to maintaining the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. Australia welcomed U.S. efforts, through the Global Force Posture Review, to strengthen its military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region and ensure they remain relevant to changing strategic needs. The United States and Australia agreed to further strengthen cooperation in the region to address common threats and welcomed APEC's increasing commitments in this area.

9. Australia and the United States welcomed Japan's increasing contribution to regional security and committed to further cooperation with Japan. They welcomed China's greater international engagement, particularly in the Six-Party Talks on North Korea. They firmly called for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons and programs; halt its missile programs; cease foreign sales of missile technology; and reduce its threatening conventional military posture. Both called on China and Taiwan to resolve their differences peacefully. Each reaffirmed its commitment to its one-China policy.

10. Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to work closely with the countries of South East Asia to enhance the security and prosperity of that region. They welcomed Indonesia's successful elections and committed to work with the Indonesian Government to promote economic development and democracy. They agreed to seek ways to help nations in the region improve their capacity to patrol their sovereign waterways to enhance the security of vital sea lanes in the region.

Defense Relations

11. The United States and Australia reaffirmed the centrality of strong bilateral defense relations in pursuing closely aligned strategic objectives and global security. They agreed that interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces was important - as demonstrated in the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. They welcomed the Statement on Interoperability. Both welcomed and agreed to further development of the proposed Joint Combined Training Centre. They welcomed the conclusion of the bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in Missile Defense and agreed on the importance of moving quickly to develop a detailed program of bilateral Missile Defense cooperation.

Next AUSMIN Meeting

12. Australia will host the next AUSMIN meeting in 2005.

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