I visited the United States from Sunday 24 July to Wednesday 27 July for meetings in New York and Washington.
In New York, I met with the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, for discussions on Australia’s involvement in UN peacekeeping missions, including the new UN mission in South Sudan and ongoing missions in Afghanistan and East Timor.
Australia has a long commitment to United Nations peacekeeping missions and broader peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. More than 500 Australian Defence Force personnel are deployed to UN Security Council mandated peacekeeping missions around the world.
In Washington, I met with the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and also the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. We discussed Afghanistan, the United States Global Force Posture Review, and the next AUSMIN meeting.
I held meetings with the Chairman and the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin and John McCain. I also met the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon and Adam Smith.
During talks on progress in Afghanistan, I reinforced Australia’s resolve to complete our mission to train the Afghan National Army’s 4th Brigade and to transition to Afghan led security in Uruzgan Province by the end of 2014.
I canvassed the demanding modern fiscal environment in which Defence forces operate and our respective Defence reform programs.
I also discussed defence capabilities, including the Joint Strike Fighter and Australia’s Future Submarine Program with government and industry representatives.
I delivered a speech at The Brookings Institution on "The Asia Pacific Century and the Australia-United States Alliance."
It is unambiguously in Australia’s national interest for the United States to be active and engaged in the Asia-Pacific, as economic, political, military and strategic influence shifts to the Asia-Pacific, to our part of the world.
I laid a wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate the sacrifice made by Australian and United States servicemen and servicewomen.
Over 300,000 veterans from all the US nation's wars are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution to Afghanistan.
In this its 60th Anniversary year, my visit underlined the importance and value of Australia’s Alliance with the United States, which remains the cornerstone of our strategic and security arrangements.