Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations 1999 Joint Communiqué

1. The Secretary of State of the United States of America, Madeleine Albright, and the Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, met in Washington on November 3, 1999, with Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer and Minister for Defense John Moore, to strengthen further the alliance relationship between the US and Australia and to discuss regional and global issues.


2. Ministers recalled that one of the stated motivations of the ANZUS Security Treaty of 1951 was the signatories' desire "to strengthen the fabric of peace in the Pacific Area," and agreed that the strategic partnership between the US and Australia continued to fulfill this goal. The shared values and interests embodied in the ANZUS Treaty and the 1996 Sydney Statement underpinned the full range of cooperative activities undertaken by the US and Australia in the Asia - Pacific region and beyond. Events since AUSMIN 98 had demonstrated once again that the strategic partnership was flexible enough to cope effectively with rapid changes in the regional and global security environment.

3. Australia and the United States affirmed that the spread of political and economic freedom, growth of democratic institutions, and respect for human rights were essential for the achievement of genuine long-term stability and lasting peace. They further agreed that adherence to these principles should continue to guide their cooperative efforts to advance their national interests and values.


4. The US and Australia congratulated the people and the Government of Indonesia for their achievements to date in effecting a transition to democracy. They also commended Indonesia's far-sighted decision to work with Portugal and the United Nations to give the people of East Timor a say in their future status, and then transferring administrative authority for East Timor to the United Nations. Both countries called on Indonesia to continue cooperating with international efforts to facilitate the expeditious movement of displaced persons who wish to return to East Timor, establish a secure and peaceful border between East Timor and Indonesia, and gather information regarding alleged violations of human rights.

5. The US and Australia noted that developments within Indonesia will continue to have significant security implications for other nations that are either located in Southeast Asia or whose national interests are affected by developments in that region. With this in mind, both sides affirmed their support for a peaceful transition to democracy within an economically prosperous Indonesian state that is unified within its current borders. They also confirmed their commitment to work with Indonesia for a productive, mutually beneficial relationship that assists Indonesia in meeting the many challenges it faces.

6. The US thanked Australia for the leadership it has displayed in supporting the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) as well as taking the lead in organizing and, at the request of the UN Secretary General, assuming command of the International Force for East Timor (INTERFET). Australia expressed gratitude to the US for the rapid and essential military and diplomatic support given these endeavors. The US and Australia welcomed the strong regional participation in INTERFET, including the willingness of the island state members of the South Pacific Forum to provide practical support within their resources for UN operations in East Timor. Both sides expressed support for the United Nations Transitional Authority for East Timor (UNTAET) and called on other nations to also provide voluntary contributions to support UNTAET. The US and Australia strongly urged all parties in East Timor to strive for national reconciliation that respects the rights of all Timorese, and to pursue friendly, mutually beneficial relations with Indonesia.

7. The United States and Australia agreed that a key component of global security in the new century would be the emergence of a stable, prosperous, and open China that played a constructive role as a full member of the international community. Both governments agreed that achievement of this goal would be served by continuing practical and comprehensive engagement with China, affirmed their commitment to a "one China" policy, and stated their firm belief that disputes between China and Taiwan should be settled only by peaceful means. They also expressed the hope that China would soon be able to enter into full membership in the World Trade Organization under appropriate terms.

8. Both governments underscored the continuing importance to regional security and stability of the bilateral alliances between the US and Japan, the Republic of Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. Australia expressed continued support for the US-Japan alliance as a central pillar in the region's security architecture, and welcomed the recognition by the US and the Japanese government of the importance of their relationship to the region, manifested most recently by the passage of the Defense Guidelines by Japan's Diet. Australia and the United States welcomed indications of a return to positive economic growth in Japan and looked to the government of Japan to take firm action to ensure that this growth continued in a sustained way. Australia and the United States agreed continued implementation of policies to advance economic growth in Japan would have significant benefits, both economic and strategic, for the Asia Pacific region. The United States and Australia expressed their strong support for closer relations between Japan and China and Japan and Russia, as important steps in fostering the Asia Pacific's growing sense of community and cooperative endeavor.

9. Australia welcomed the recent improvement in US-DPRK bilateral relations and US efforts, along with Japan and the Republic of Korea, to reduce the threat of nuclear and missile proliferation on the Korean peninsula, noting that continued progress in these areas was essential for Australia's own security, especially in light of its economic ties to northeast Asia. The US expressed appreciation to Australia for its recently announced contribution to the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO) for the year 2000.

10. The US and Australia welcomed continuing efforts by the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) to enhance regional security. Both expressed support for the review of the overlap between confidence building measures and preventive diplomacy and hoped that the ARF would progress to a greater focus on preventive diplomacy, bearing in mind the need to proceed at a pace comfortable to all members. The two countries reaffirmed their efforts to press the Burmese regime to cease its political repression and begin a direct dialogue with the democratic opposition, including Aung San Suu Kyi, and representatives of the ethnic minorities.


11. Australia and the United States re-emphasized the strength and vitality of the US-Australia defense relationship. The two governments noted that the climate of trust and confidence that had built up over 50 years as security partners continued to deliver essential benefits to both sides. The United States valued Australia's leadership role in forming
INTERFET and its initiative and determination in successfully deploying INTERFET into East Timor.

12. The United States and Australia affirmed their commitment to expanding their defense engagement programs within the Asia Pacific region. Both governments acknowledged the value of these activities in encouraging and improving regional cohesion. Australia regarded United States engagement as essential and welcomed its sustained commitment to the region. Australia acknowledged the potential in this regard of the US initiative that focuses on exercises, professional military education, and readiness as methods to enhance contingency interoperability in the region. Recalling the 1996 Sydney Statement, both sides reaffirmed their intention to work cooperatively with other states in the region and to encourage collective solutions to problems and security challenges in the region. They observed that the various phases of the UN operations in East Timor were a striking example of regional cooperation to achieve shared goals.

13. Australia and the United States noted that interoperability remains a priority goal of the alliance. Rapid echnological changes require both governments to maintain an open dialogue and continue to explore exchanges focused on interoperability. Australia and the United States applauded the highly successful Crocodile joint exercise, held in Queensland, Australia in October 1999. The achievements of our forces during Crocodile and the effective collaboration in INTERFET reflect the benefits and importance of our combined training and exercises arrangements. Both sides welcomed maintaining a robust training and exercise schedule and look forward to expanding military training opportunities in Australia.

14. Ministers expressed their pleasure at the success of the AUSMIN Defense Acquisition Committee, established during the 1998 AUSMIN talks in Sydney. They noted that in encouraging constructive dialogue, the Committee offers important new ways to eliminate many of the obstacles that had previously delayed acquisition programs between the US and Australia. The Ministers emphasized the importance of Australian access to advanced US military technologies. The US declared it would aim to facilitate further extensive and timely access by Australia to relevant technologies in order to enhance interoperability between our armed forces.


15. Participants confirmed the shared commitment of the US and Australia to countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery. They agreed on the crucial need to implement fully and, where appropriate, strengthen the framework of multilateral agreements designed to serve this goal: the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). The United States and Australia agreed to work hard towards an early conclusion of a protocol to strengthen compliance with the BWC. The US expressed strong support for Australia's proposal to convene a high-level meeting to propel the Ad Hoc Group negotiations into the final phase. They expressed the hope that an effective fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) that would end for all time the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices could soon be added to this framework. The US and Australia agreed that the NPT continues to deliver significant security benefits to all nations and to seek an outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference that reinforces the treaty. They urged support for the IAEA's ongoing efforts to strengthen safeguards, including the prompt conclusion of protocols to IAEA safeguards agreements.

16. Both parties agreed that a strong and continuing arms reduction process was important in its own right, as well as being part of the nuclear powers' obligation to leadership in reducing nuclear dangers. Australia expressed its support for ongoing US-Russian discussions aimed at furthering the process of reducing strategic offensive arms through an eventual START III agreement. The United States and Australia expressed their shared concerns about the threat to regional security posed by the proliferation of ballistic missiles. Australia expressed its understanding of US plans to decide next year on deployment of a limited National Missile Defense (NMD) to defend against potential threats from rogue states and noted in that context US discussions with Russia on possible amendments to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Australia encouraged the United States to pursue amendments consistent with the spirit and intent of the ABM Treaty in order to maintain an effective Treaty relevant to new strategic circumstances.

17. Australia expressed disappointment at the failure of the United States Senate to give its advice and consent to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty (CTBT). The US assured Australia that the Administration continues to support strongly the CTBT and the international regime it establishes, and would continue to act in accordance with its obligations as a signatory to the CTBT, would maintain its moratorium on nuclear explosive testing, and would seek reconsideration of the Treaty by the Senate when conditions are better suited for ratification. Both countries joined in calling on nations that have not done so to sign the CTBT, and on signatories to ratify the treaty promptly. The United States and Australia called on all states to refrain from conducting nuclear explosive tests.

18. The US and Australia discussed the continuing tensions between India and Pakistan. Both sides expressed the hope that the Indian and Pakistani governments would take concrete steps to improve relations, and that Pakistan would replace its current military-led government with a representative, balanced, accountable, and economically-effective civilian government in as short a timeframe as possible. They agreed to continue to work to encourage concrete action to avert a nuclear and missile arms race in South Asia and to strengthen the international non-proliferation regime, in accordance with UNSCR 1172.

19. Australia and the US also called on Iraq to comply fully with all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding the verification and destruction of its capability to produce weapons of mass destruction and missiles. They expressed their determination to continue support for efforts by the international community to bring about full compliance by the Government of Iraq.

20. The two governments expressed their concern about terrorism and the importance of continued close cooperation to combat this threat to global security, particularly in the lead-up to and during the Sydney 2000 Olympics.


21. Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to the liberalization of trade and investment and their strong support for the launch of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations in Seattle in November/December, as a means of achieving increased global prosperity, higher standards of living, and sustainable development. They emphasized the central importance of achieving substantial reform of trade distortions in agriculture in the negotiations. Australia welcomed the expressed US interest in coordinating more closely with members of the Cairns Group of agricultural exporting nations. Australia strongly encouraged the United States to obtain Fast Track negotiating authority to facilitate progress in the new round.

22. Both governments welcomed the positive outcomes from the APEC Ministers' and Leaders' meetings in Auckland in September 1999, and endorsed the core elements that Ministers and Leaders had identified for a new multilateral trade negotiations round. They acknowledged the contribution that this has made to the launch of a new round.

23. Australia and the United States reaffirmed their commitment to reducing and eliminating barriers to trade, expanding bilateral trade and investment ties and to working closely together to address outstanding bilateral trade issues, including through the Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement talks which were last held at Ministerial level in Washington in May 1999. The two sides agreed on the utility of settling bilateral differences in accordance with WTO rules. The two governments discussed several bilateral trade issues including agricultural export and industry assistance measures and lamb safeguards actions, possible labeling requirements for products containing genetically modified organisms, and sanitary and phytosanitary import restrictions.


24. Both sides affirmed the enduring value of the annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations as the peak consultative body of the alliance partners. The US accepted Australia's offer to host the next round in Australia in 2000.

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Last Updated: 24 January 2013
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