Australia-US ties getting stronger

On occasion of 33rd Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the governments of Australia and US make ties stringer.

On the occasion of the 33rd Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN), the governments of Australia and the United States of America issued the following joint statement.

Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Richard Marles, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Defence, hosted Antony J. Blinken and Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretaries of State and Defense for the United States of America on July 29 in Brisbane. The purpose of the event was to advance the Australia-United States Alliance and their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and globally. Building on the high pace of engagement between leaders and ministers, including the meeting between Prime Minister Albanese and President Biden in May 2023, the Ministers and Secretaries (the principals) came to the conclusion that the Alliance has never been in a stronger position than it is right now. It continues to be a relationship of strategic interest because it is founded on a bond of shared values and is predicated on a shared resolve to maintain peace, prosperity, and stability.

All four principals expressed their gratitude to the traditional owners of the site on which AUSMIN was held and brought attention to the long-standing and deeply rooted connections that exist between Australia’s First Nations people and their homeland. They made a commitment to ensure that the perspectives of people from First Nations are heard at the international level, as well as to draw on the knowledge and experience of First Nations people in order to address common concerns like climate change. They made a pact to collaborate in order to advance the economic interests of Indigenous Peoples, particularly through the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), and bilateral efforts.

In order to create an Indo-Pacific area that is open, stable, peaceful, and prosperous while also respecting sovereignty, human rights, and international law, the key players have committed to expanding their collaboration on a bilateral level as well as with regional partners and institutions, primarily ASEAN and the Pacific Islands Forum. They made a pact to further strengthen their engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, which would be supported by the priorities of regional partners in areas such as economic and social development, cooperation on climate change, security, connectivity, good governance, prompt and effective humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, health security, and initiatives to build resilience.

They reaffirmed their staunch opposition to activities that contribute to instability in South China Sea, such as risky encounters at sea and in the air, the militarization of disputed features, the hazardous use of coast guard vessels as well as maritime militia, and efforts to obstruct the offshore resource development of other countries. The parties involved have committed to keeping a consistent and long-term presence of Australian and United States aircraft and vessels in the region’s vital international waterways, including the South China Sea. This will be done in accordance with international law and in partnership with Southeast Asia and other states. This will promote stability and security in the region’s vital international waterways. They also promised to redouble their efforts to assist Southeast Asian partners in developing the capabilities necessary to effectively administer their own maritime domains. In addition, the leaders highlighted their worry about the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) excessive maritime claims, which are inconsistent with international law, as well as the People’s Republic of China’s unilateral activities, which have created tensions in region. The parties’ primary representatives underlined that the South China Sea Arbitral Award from 2016 is final and enforceable against them.

 

The principals expressed strong opposition to any destabilizing or coercive unilateral actions that increase tensions in the region, undermining peace and stability, and shared an intention to remain in close communication about the situation in the East China Sea. In addition, the principals expressed serious concerns about the situation in the East China Sea.

 

The key players reiterated how critical it is to preserve peace and stability on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, as well as their opposition to any changes that are made to the status quo that are made unilaterally. They urged the peaceful resolution of issues involving both sides of the Taiwan Strait via conversation, without the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion. They highlighted Taiwan’s significant role as a leading economy and democracy in the Indo-Pacific region, and they reaffirmed their commitment to collaborate in order to facilitate Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organizations; to strengthen economic, trade, and people-to-people ties; and to improve development coordination with Taiwan in the Pacific.

 

The principals emphasized how important it is for all countries to be responsible in how they manage strategic rivalry. Australia has voiced their support for continued efforts by the United States to create dependable and open communication channels with People’s Republic of China in order to manage strategic competition and prevent conflict. The principals urged the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to engage in constructive dialogue with the United States of America and to take measures that would advance both stability and openness. They reaffirmed the significance of working together with the PRC to solve issues of global and common concern, such as climate change, the safety of food and nutrition supplies around the world, international trade, as well as the health of the global economy.

 

The principals emphasized their dedication to working together and with partners who share their values in order to promote Southeast Asia’s economic, development, and security agendas. They underlined that Southeast Asia played an essential role in maintaining the stability of the area. They underlined their commitment to the importance of ASEAN as well as the ASEAN-led regional architecture, which includes the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus. They underlined their continuous support for the practical implementation of ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific and highlighted the importance that the EAS plays as the region’s top leaders’ platform for addressing strategic problems. They also highlighted the role that the EAS plays in resolving strategic challenges. They provided their backing for Indonesia’s priorities while it was chairing ASEAN in 2023 and extended their backing to Laos when it was their turn to chair ASEAN in 2024. They reaffirmed their support for Timor-Leste’s membership in ASEAN and pledged to put their separate Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships with ASEAN into action.

 

The principals expressed their continued support for the efforts being undertaken by ASEAN to respond to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar, as well as their profound worry regarding the deteriorating situation in the country. They encouraged the military authority in Myanmar once more to execute its promises under the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus, refrain from violence, release all those who were unjustly jailed, and enable humanitarian aid to enter the country without interference. They issued a demand for the international community to maintain international pressure on the government and encouraged all countries to avoid lending credibility or military assistance to the dictatorship as it continues its atrocities against the people of Myanmar. They also asked the international community to maintain international pressure on the regime.

 

The principals have emphasized their commitment to working with Pacific Island Countries through the existing regional architecture, recognizing the centrality of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), and supporting the objectives of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. They stated that they would continue to discuss and be guided by Pacific priorities, and they encouraged other partners to follow best practice engagement strategies that are transparent and put Pacific interests first in a similar manner.

 

The founders restated their conviction that Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) is increasing the capability of countries with similar objectives and needs to coordinate with one another and share resources in order to support the priorities and requirements of Pacific Island Countries. They committed to collaborating closely with PBP partners in order to carry out activities relating to the mitigation of climate change, the enhancement of cyber capacity, and the storage of humanitarian goods.

 

The parties involved have agreed to pursue additional cooperative finance in order to build infrastructure in the region that is both sustainable and resilient. Australia expressed its appreciation to the United States for its intention to further strengthen its sovereign finance capability in order to fulfil critical infrastructure needs in the region, as well as its commitment to investigate additional grant funding opportunities for infrastructure projects in the Pacific. They underlined their dedication to the Blue Dot Network’s (BDN) mission to certify projects that have fulfilled global standards for quality infrastructure development, with the goal of supporting developing nations in better attracting investment from the private sector and closing the infrastructure gap.

 

The parties involved have agreed to make use of—in consultation with the countries of the Pacific Islands—the impending deployment of a United States Coast Guard Cutter to the Pacific Ocean at the beginning of 2024 in order to enhance maritime domain awareness and training in the area, as well as to address maritime security priorities such as illegal, unreported, as well as unregulated fishing (IUU fishing).

 

In accordance with the Boe Declaration on Regional Security and the PIF’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, the principals reaffirmed their commitment to jointly expand support for Pacific law enforcement and justice sector actors to secure maritime borders, combat transnational crime, as well aspromote the rule of law. They were pleased with the increased cooperation between law enforcement agencies in Australia, the Pacific, and the United States in order to strengthen maritime law enforcement and domain awareness, law enforcement capacity building, border security, and the ability to combat transnational organized crime, cybercrime, money laundering, corruption, and trafficking.

 

Exercises CORAL WARRIOR and CARTWHEEL were held in Fiji, and Exercise PUKPUK was held in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The principals reaffirmed their commitment to increase interoperability with the armies of the Pacific region, especially through these exercises. They were pleased to have India, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand as observers during the largest bilateral military training engagement between Australia and the United States, which was known as Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2023. Additionally, they welcomed Fiji, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga as participants in the exercise for the first time.

 

The principals talked about ways to strengthen the cooperation between United States, along with Japan, Australia, and India in order to promote an environment that is free from instability and rich in economic opportunity in the Indo-Pacific. They expressed their gratitude to Australia for hosting the 2023 Quad Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima, which took place in Australia. At the summit, the Quad Leaders announced a number of concrete steps in response to regional objectives regarding climate change and renewable energy, infrastructure and connectivity, essential and emerging technology, and health security. They expressed their satisfaction with the continuous development of the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, which is currently in the phase of its pilot program. This partnership is assisting in the formation of a more precise picture of maritime activities and enabling solutions to IUU fishing, thereby bringing improved transparency to the region. The United States of America expressed gratitude to Australia for its leadership in the Quad in 2023, and the principals reaffirmed their support for India’s decision to host the Quad Leaders’ Summit in 2024.

 

The principals expressed their satisfaction with the expanding development collaboration between their two systems in the Indo-Pacific and around the world, particularly in the areas of development programming, climate and development funding, infrastructure development, and the protection of public health. The leaders expressed their satisfaction with the signing of memorandum of understanding between Department of Foreign Affairs as well as Trade of Australia and the Agency for International Development of the United States. The purpose of the MOU was to promote the cooperative pre-positioning of humanitarian supplies in Australia and Papua New Guinea, which would allow for more effective responses to humanitarian crises in the region.

 

The leaders reaffirmed their dedication to attaining gender equality and furthering the human rights of all women and girls, in all of its varied forms, both on a worldwide scale and through efforts in the Indo-Pacific region. They expressed their satisfaction with the first annual Australia-United States Strategic Dialogue on Gender Equality, which took place in June 2023, as well as their determination to work together on the implementation of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, the elimination of all kinds of sexual as well as gender-based violence, the promotion of gender equality in trade, and the advancement of women’s economic empowerment.

 

The principals expressed their continuing grave concern regarding severe human rights violations and abuses in Xinjiang, the erosion of religious, cultural, educational, and linguistic rights and freedoms in Tibet, and the systematic erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic institutions, including through the introduction of the National Security Law and the decision of Hong Kong authorities to issue arrest warrants for democracy advocates who no longer live in Hong Kong. The principals also expressed their continued grave concern regarding the systematic erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic institutions. They issued a strong condemnation of the continuous violations and abuses of human rights that are taking place in Iran, particularly the persecuting of women and girls, the violent suppression of civil society, and the discriminating treatment of ethnic and religious minorities. They also sharply criticized the Taliban for their gross violations of human rights, including the Taliban’s systemic and all-encompassing rejection of the rights of women and girls to exercise their rights. They reaffirmed their resolve to stand in solidarity with the people of Iran and Afghanistan, especially the women and girls of those countries.

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