Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds hosted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on 4 August in Sydney for the 29th Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) to deepen economic, security, and strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and globally.
As Prime Minister Morrison and President Trump reaffirmed at the G20 in Osaka on 27 June, Australia and the United States are the closest of allies. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing: momentous events in our shared history, and emblematic of Australia and the United States’ long partnership in war and peace.
Minister Payne and Secretary Pompeo agreed that our alliance today is more vital than ever, with our work together in the Indo-Pacific region the clear, shared focus. The Ministers and Secretaries emphasised the need for an increasingly networked structure of alliances and partnerships to maintain an Indo-Pacific that is secure, open, inclusive and rules-based; and where nations conduct themselves in ways that enhance regional stability, reinforce international law, and respect the sovereignty of all countries. Both countries stand ready to work with all nations to strengthen a regional order based on these principles.
Australia and the United States underscored their shared commitment to the security, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. Minister Payne and Secretary Pompeo welcomed ASEAN’s recent ‘Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’, which shares many of the underlying principles identified in our respective visions for the region, and discussed ways to support ASEAN in implementing its Outlook. Both nations reaffirmed their strong support for ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN-led regional architecture, underlining the value of the East Asia Summit as the region’s premier Leaders-led forum for addressing political and security challenges.
The principals shared a commitment to deepen cooperation with a range of partners, including with Japan and India, and welcomed the recent Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and Trilateral Defence Ministerial meetings as ways to advance trilateral policy coordination. The Ministers and Secretaries also welcomed the increased engagement in the Indo-Pacific by the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the EU, and expressed their readiness to further boost cooperation on development, infrastructure investment and defence cooperation.
Both countries recognised the growing strategic and economic importance of India, and the significance of South Asia and the Indian Ocean region to ensuring an open, rules-based Indo-Pacific. They committed to further collaboration with India and other partners to support regional architecture, including IORA, regional infrastructure, and to deeper engagement with them on a broad range of security issues, including maritime security and oceans governance, cyber security, counter-terrorism and transnational crime.
They committed to further support Southeast Asian states, in particular through maritime and other security cooperation, infrastructure development, and good governance. In maritime Southeast Asia they recognised the importance of Indonesia as a maritime axis between the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In the Mekong sub-region, they discussed U.S. and Australian initiatives to improve water governance, address transnational crime, expand connectivity, and support the Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) and the Mekong River Commission.
In the Pacific, Australia and the United States intend to strengthen their cooperation with Pacific Island partners to realise the Pacific’s vision for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity. They pledged to support Pacific partners to advance their economic and security priorities, including those set out in the Boe Declaration on Regional Security.
Ministers and Secretaries affirmed support for democratic systems, encouraging strong civil society, countering foreign interference, combatting corruption, and fortifying institutions to help nations attract high-quality private investment and secure their sovereignty.
Recognising the immense demand for infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region, both countries reiterated their commitment to the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, which G20 leaders recently endorsed at the Osaka Summit. They pledged to apply these principles to projects in the region: through the Australia-Japan-U.S. Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership, the new Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific, and the U.S. Development Finance Corporation.
Minister Reynolds and Secretary Esper emphasised the importance of Australia-U.S. defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region – including through enhanced defence engagement and capacity building with partners in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Minister Reynolds and Secretary Esper underscored the importance of fostering closer industry partnership to safeguard supply chains through programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter. They noted Australia’s inclusion in the US National Technology Industrial Base will strengthen their respective industrial bases and collaboration into the future.
They also welcomed a major milestone in the Force Posture Initiatives, as the rotational deployment of U.S. Marines in Darwin has reached 2500 personnel in 2019. The principals emphasised the value of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin (MRF-D) in strengthening the alliance, and in deepening engagement with regional partners.
Minister Reynolds and Secretary Esper affirmed their commitments to strengthening defence collaboration in science and technology, from research and development to missile defence, as well as coordinating security cooperation with partners in the region through joint training and exercise opportunities. They also noted this year’s first iteration of Exercise Pacific Vanguard and looked forward to future exercises including the United States, Australia, the Republic of Korea and Japan.
The principals expressed serious concerns at continued militarisation of disputed features in the South China Sea. They strongly objected to coercive unilateral actions by any claimant state that could alter the status quo and increase tensions. The Ministers and Secretaries also expressed concern about disruptive activities in relation to long-standing oil and gas projects as well as fisheries in the South China Sea. They emphasised the importance of upholding freedom of navigation, overflight and other lawful uses of the sea and of all States’ acting in accordance with international law. They called on all countries to make and pursue their maritime claims in accordance with international law, as reflected in the UN Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS). The Ministers and Secretaries underscored the importance of the July 2016 decision in the Philippines-China Arbitral Tribunal’s Award, which is binding on the parties. They called for any Code of Conduct to: be fully consistent with international law, in particular UNCLOS; not prejudice the interests of third parties or the rights of states under international law; and support existing, inclusive regional architecture.
The Ministers and Secretaries expressed concern about the potential establishment of new military bases that could undermine stability and sovereignty in the Indo-Pacific region. They exchanged views on recent reports, such as in relation to Cambodia, and undertook to remain in close contact on developments.
Both countries reaffirmed the shared objective of North Korea abandoning all its weapons of mass destruction and missile programs as required by multiple UN Security Council Resolutions. Australian Ministers welcomed the United States’ commitment to continue talks with North Korea toward the goal of final, fully verified denuclearisation of North Korea. The Secretaries and Ministers intend to continue to work together closely, and with other partners, to maintain pressure on North Korea, including by implementing all existing UN Security Council Resolutions.
The United States and Australia shared concerns about threats to freedom of navigation and the uninterrupted passage of maritime trade in the strategic sea-lanes in the Middle East, and noted that attacks on civilian shipping were of grave concern and a serious threat to the safety of navigation.
Recalling the territorial defeat of ISIS (Da’esh) announced in March 2019, the Ministers and Secretaries reaffirmed their commitment to continuing cooperation under the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS (Da’esh). Australia and the United States are also working with NATO to ensure Afghanistan never again becomes a base for international terrorism. Both countries underscored the need to remain vigilant to the threat of the dispersal of foreign terrorist fighters across the region, including in Southeast Asia. The United States welcomed Australia’s recent announcement of a further contribution of air assets in support of continuing Global Coalition efforts to defeat ISIS (Da’esh) remnants in Syria and Iraq, as well as Australia’s financial contributions to support demining and other stabilisation programs in Iraq.
The principals underscored the crucial role that women play in peace and security work around the globe. Both nations remain committed to collaboration in protecting the human rights of women and girls in fragile and conflict-affected contexts and to promoting meaningful participation by women in conflict prevention, security responses, peacebuilding and relief and recovery efforts.
Ministers and Secretaries commended U.S. and Australian leadership on the Global Health Security Agenda. They welcomed new initiatives, such as the U.S.-Australia Military Health Security Summit, and joint support for capacity building activities to mitigate infectious disease threats.
The United States and Australia remain committed to realising an open, interoperable, reliable, free and secure internet, and will increase collaboration, including with likeminded countries and the private sector, to advance this objective. The principals welcomed the recent G20 Leaders’ Statement on Preventing Exploitation of the Internet for Terrorism and Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism, and reiterated the importance of online platforms stepping up the ambition and pace of their efforts to prevent terrorist and violent extremist content from being streamed, uploaded, or re-uploaded. Both nations also committed to promoting responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.
The Ministers and Secretaries affirmed the need for a new era in arms control that expands the number of states and weapon systems included in negotiated agreements and increases efforts to reduce nuclear risks. To this end, and without foreclosing the possibility of New START extension, they called on Russia and China to come to the table and join the United States in its efforts to advance a future-oriented agenda on arms control, building on the enduring importance of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The Ministers and Secretaries intend to build resilience in sensitive sectors of our respective economies, including critical technologies, infrastructure, systems and minerals.
The principals welcomed the strong relationship between the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the first Australia-U.S. Civil Space Dialogue. Both countries remain committed to working constructively with partners in multilateral fora to promote norms for appropriate behaviour in outer space.
The United States will host the next AUSMIN in 2020.