TRANSCRIPT: JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LEON PANETTA, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS KEVIN RUDD AND MINISTER FOR DEFENCE STEPHEN SMITH.
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
TOPICS: ANZUS; Cyber Security; US Global Force Posture Review; Afghanistan; Iran; Asia/Pacific Region.
HILLARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. It is a great pleasure for Secretary Panetta and I to welcome Foreign Minister Rudd and Defence Minister Smith, and the entire Australian delegation, our friends and our partners, here today. I must say, on a personal note, it’s a special pleasure to see my friend Kevin Rudd back on his feet serving his country and making this important journey to be with us here today.
We have come to San Francisco to celebrate 60 years of the U.S.-Australia Alliance in the place where it was born. Here at the Presidio Golden Gate Club back in 1951, in the month of September, our predecessors signed the Treaty that cemented the ties between our nations. Today we reflect on that history, celebrate the vision of those who brought our Alliance to life, and chart a common path forward together.
And as we announced earlier this week, President Obama will be visiting Australia in November to commemorate this important milestone and to advance our Alliance.
For 60 years now, each new global challenge has brought with it a new cause for cooperation with Australia and an ever stronger partnership grounded in our shared values. And that is exactly what happened 10 years ago. When America was attacked on September 11th, just days after the 50th anniversary of our Alliance, Australia invoked the Treaty to come to our defence.
In the decade since, Australia’s men and women have fought alongside our own just as they have in every major conflict since the First World War. In Afghanistan, Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to our mission. In Libya, Australia now provides 10 percent of the international humanitarian budget. So from cyberspace to food security, Australia makes vital contributions to global security, stability, and wellbeing. And we greatly appreciate their efforts.
As Pacific powers, the United States and Australia are committed to working together to seize the opportunities of a fast-changing Asia-Pacific region. Our Alliance has provided a context for the region’s dynamic economic growth by underwriting peace and security and promoting trade and prosperity.
The detailed joint communiqué we are releasing today reflects the full range of our shared interests, values, and vision from maritime cooperation to joint development projects to building stronger ties with India to promote democracy and prosperity in the Pacific Islands.
We are working to encourage trade through the Trans-Pacific Partnership and through APEC, whose leaders the President will be hosting this fall in Hawaii. Together, we are strengthening regional institutions like the East Asia Summit and ASEAN. And as Secretary Panetta will explain, our military relationship is deepening and becoming even more consequential.
One country of particular shared concern is Burma. In recent weeks, we have seen some welcome gestures from Burma’s Government. It’s important for us and for others to try to understand better what is unfolding in Burma today. Our new special representative and policy coordinator for Burma, Ambassador Derek Mitchell, has just returned from his first visit to the country, one that included productive meetings with both the Government and Aung San Suu Kyi. Frankly, we have serious question and concerns across a wide range of issues, from Burma’s treatment of ethnic minorities and more than 2,000 prisoners to its relations with North Korea.
Still, we welcome the fact that the Burmese Government has launched a dialogue with Aung Sun Suu Kyi and begun to speak of the need for important reforms. But just yesterday, Burma added 10-years to a prison sentence of a 21-year-old journalist. So I would urge the Burmese Government to follow its words and commitments with concrete actions that lead to genuine reform, national reconciliation, and respect for human rights.
The ties between our nations are as close as any in the world. Our peoples and our Governments overwhelmingly support our partnership. And although Australians have taken over the Oscars, the Tour de France, and now the U.S. Open, our affection for your country remains undiminished.
The communiqué we have produced today is forward-looking and action-oriented, and it reflects our confidence in this Alliance and in what our two countries can and will accomplish together.
So today we celebrate 60 years of a strong, steady Alliance. We honour those who fought and sacrificed to sustain it, and we recommit ourselves to continue to work closely together as allies and friends to make good on its full promise for many years to come.
KEVIN RUDD: Thank you very much, Secretary of State, Clinton and Secretary of Defense, Panetta. Both Stephen and I have appreciated the hospitality here in San Francisco, and at this 60th anniversary of the Alliance which shares our two countries. It is good that we reflect on why we have this Alliance.
Sixty years is no small span of time. If you’re a student of military history, there are few alliances in history, in modern history, which have outlasted that span of time. And so we should ask ourselves why is that so in the case of this Alliance between our two great democracies. I think the answers can be found in the extraordinary ties between our two peoples. The answers can also be found in the fact that between us we are among the world’s oldest continuing democracies, and therefore at the deepest level we share common values.
No one can overestimate the importance of the sharing of common values. Of course, we share common interests as well in the complex challenges which confront us today in the international community. But the reason that we have endured these 60 years, and, I believe, have a long span of time ahead of us yet in this Alliance, is because we are fundamentally anchored in a common view of what is important in the affairs of the world.
As Secretary of State Clinton just mentioned, were reminded just recently of the importance of those values. Ten years ago, we saw the horrendous attacks on innocent Americans and citizens from across the world here in the United States on September 11. We in Australia were shocked then as we remain shocked now at such a callous act. It cut deep into the hearts of Australians. They saw, they felt, and we knew we were as one. That sentiment remains alive 10 years later.
For our friends in America, I sense very closely and acutely that the feelings of that day are still very close, though a decade has now elapsed. It is a salient reminder of our common challenge based on our common values, to deal robustly, comprehensively, and globally with the challenge of terrorism today. And that’s one of the reasons we cooperate together at this great Alliance between Australia and the United States.
In our discussions today, we have covered a great scope and a great span. We’ve reviewed our engagement across the Asia-Pacific region. This region of ours, the Asia-Pacific, the waters of the Pacific, we see out here off the coast of San Francisco.
This region will be the center of gravity for global economic growth, for global security for the half century to come. And it is in our combined interest, therefore, to ensure that this Pacific century is indeed a Pacific century. And therefore, that must be based on not just the sharing of values but concrete cooperation in the hard areas of foreign policy and national security policy, and that is what we have reviewed again today: our engagement with China and the countries of Northeast-Asia, including the Republic of Korea and Japan; in Southeast-Asia, our common engagements with countries there, including Australia’s nearest neighbour, the Republic of Indonesia, now a welcome member of the family of democracies; our common engagement across the Indian Ocean and South Asia, and our relationship, of course, important that it is, with India.
We focused also on regional challenges and the nuclear program being adopted by North Korea is one which profoundly concerns our two countries and profoundly concerns the Government of Australia. More broadly of course, we also reviewed our common interests in the Middle East. The peace process, the recent changes underway in Egypt, in Libya, and we follow with great, great concern the continued and systematic abuse of human rights and the killing of innocent people in Syria.
The Secretary just mentioned Burma. I would endorse wholeheartedly her remarks. When I visited Burma myself just a couple of months ago I emphasized there to the regime that if they wish to engage international community comprehensively then the first and foremost requirement is to deal with the state of democratic conditions within their own country and the absolute imperative of the release of prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners in that country.
We welcome recent signs from the Burmese regime that they are open to such a dialogue, but like the United States, we proceed cautiously and we would call on the Burmese regime to talk concrete steps to manifest to the world at large that they are serious about that country becoming a democracy without the threat of imprisonment for those who impose those who pose, in the regimes view, a threat to them.
Finally, this is a significant AUSMIN conference. It is significant because we have also addressed new challenges of a global nature for the future. Here I refer in particular to the challenges represented by cyber security. What we are doing today in the statement that we’ve released, in separate joint statement on cyberspace, is underline that this is a new area of operational engagement between ourselves and the United States in this critical area which affects governments, businesses, and citizens the world over, the region over, and in our countries individually as well.
I’ll draw, in particular attention, to the reflections and the statement contained within the joint statement on cyberspace. It says, and I quote: ‘We,’ that is the Governments of Australia and the United States, ‘recognise that cyberspace plays a growing role in ensuring national security. Mindful of our longstanding defence relationship and the 1951 security treaty, our Governments share the view that in the event of a cyber attack that threatens the territorial integrity, political independence or security of either of our nations, Australia and the United States would consult together and determine appropriate options to address the threat.’
This represents a new dimension of our lives, an important dimension given the realities we face in this 21st century. One cyber attack can cripple an economy for hours and days on end. Let there be no doubt, cyber attacks are not only attack on governments. They can cripple businesses, and Australian businesses are not immune. We know that Australian businesses have already been the subject of cyber attacks. And if it’s a big enough economy it would have reverberations throughout the world. Like terrorism, it’s a battleground that is fought unconventionally, often without a known enemy. That is why it critical that this become a formal part of our alliance deliberations and committed cooperation in the event of such attack in the future.
If I could conclude by saying this: we in Australia look forward to the upcoming visit by President Obama to Australia. Any President of the United States is a welcome guest in Australia. We look forward very much to that visit, we look forward to making the President welcome in our country, and it constitutes, in our view, a further symbol and signpost of the significant relationship which expands not just across the foreign policy and security sphere, which we have dealt with here, but across the full breadth of the engagement between our two great democracies. Thank you.
HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you, Kevin. Leon?
LEON PANETTA: I’d like to join Secretary Clinton in extending a very warm official welcome to Minister Rudd and Minister Smith and all of our Australian colleagues and thank them for travelling all the way across the Pacific to join us in marking a very historic event here at the Presidio. Its a real pleasure for me personal pleasure for me to be able to participate in my first Australian-US Ministerial, and all the more so because it gives me an opportunity to show off my home state of California and this great city of San Francisco to these dear friends.
The depth and breadth of discussions we’ve had here today really do confirm for me that the United States has no closer ally than Australia. Sixty years after the signing of the ANZUS Treaty here at the Presidio we come together again today and affirm this Alliance, affirm that it remains strong, and that we are determined to deepen our security cooperation even further to counter the threats and challenges that we face in the future.
With that goal in mind, we discussed today the efforts of the Bilateral Force Posture Working Group – the United States and Australia working together, which has been making steady progress in developing options for our two militaries to be able to train and operate together more closely, including more combined defence activities and a shared use of facilities. This work to strengthen our Alliance’s presence and posture in the Pacific reflects a reality we all recognise: security and prosperity of our two great nations depends on the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.
We also discussed, as has been pointed out here, a whole range of efforts to enhance cooperation in emerging domains such as space and cyberspace. The joint statement on cyber released today sends a very strong signal about our commitment to work together to counter and respond to cyber attacks. I’ve often mentioned this is the battlefield of the future, and our ability to work together is extremely important to the challenge of being able to counter this very significant emerging threat. As we work to build on these new areas of cooperation, American and Australian forces continue to fight together in Afghanistan as they have in every major conflict over the past century.
I expressed to Minister Rudd and to Minister Smith and all of our Australian friends that were gathered here the deep appreciation of the United States Government and the American people for their very strong partnership in these efforts and for the considerable sacrifices Australian troops and their families have made during this time of war.
Over the past decade, and indeed for the past 60 years, we have gone into battle together and we have bled together because of the shared values and the deep bonds between our people. We are both immigrant nations and that creates a very strong bond between the United States and Australia, particularly for this son of immigrants. As we mark the 60th year of our Alliance, I have no doubt that if we continue to work together hand-in-hand, we can build a better and safer and more prosperous future for our two countries.
STEPHEN SMITH: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. I thank you and Secretary Panetta for your warm hospitality and for our very productive meeting today.
I’m very pleased to be here to mark the 60th anniversary of our Alliance, an Alliance between Australia and the United States which was forged in the battle for Australia, the battle in the Pacific, in the Second World War. And to mark that, later this afternoon I’ll lay a wreath at the USS San Francisco Memorial. But out of that battle in the Pacific in the Second World War in 1951, came our formal Alliance. And for 60 years, that Alliance has been the indispensable bedrock of Australia’s strategic security and defence arrangements.
The people, our predecessors, who wrote and signed the Alliance would not have envisaged that 10 years ago yesterday, the Alliance would be formally invoked for the first occasion in the face of international terrorism against a non-state actor, not against another nation-state. And today we formally record as one of our resolutions from AUSMIN that cyberspace and an attack on the United States or an attack upon Australia in cyberspace could itself invoke the treaty. This tells us that the treaty, which we have both respected over that 60-year period, is a living document that moves with the times, as it did 10 years and 1 day ago, in the aftermath of September 11th.
Can I also indicate that the discussions we’ve had today also deal with other challenges for the future, our cooperation in space and space awareness, our cooperation in ballistic missile defense. In addition to those productive discussions, as Secretary Panetta has said, we’ve done further work on the joint working group that we’ve established 12 months ago in Melbourne on the United States Global Force Posture Review. And we received a report from our officers; work on that Global Force Posture Review is ongoing.
But we are looking at increased joint exercises, increased joint training and increased joint operations. As I’ve put it colloquially in Australia: more ships in, ships out; more planes in, planes out; more troops in, troops out. We have further work to do, but we regard this work as very important.
As Secretary Panetta has said, we also spent some time dealing with Afghanistan, yet another of the conflicts that the United States has been involved in where Australia has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States. We remain committed to the transition strategy. Australia’s assessment is that in Uruzgan province, where we are, we will effect transition before the end of 2014.
We’ve also started discussions about what contribution Australia can make in the post-transition Afghanistan, whether that’s Special Forces, whether that’s training, whether that is institutional building, development assistance, capacity building.
Secretary Panetta and I also discussed issues of budget constraints and capability, in particular the very good cooperation that we are seeing in a very important project for Australia, our new submarine project. And I’m gratified to Secretary Panetta for the ongoing cooperation that Australia is and will receive so far as work on that project is concerned for 12 new Submarines.
We also spoke about the Joint Strike Fighter and the need to ensure that the Joint Strike Fighter is delivered on schedule. I’ve made the point in Australia and in the United States before that we are keen to ensure that there is no gap in our capabilities so far as our air combat capacity is concerned in Australia.
So today we’ve dealt with the range and the array of shared interests that Australia and the United States have, including the fact, as the Foreign Minister has said, we regard very much this century as the century of the Asia-Pacific where political, strategic, economic, and military influence moves to our part of the world. The rise of China, the rise of India, the rise of the ASEAN economies combined, with the emergence of Indonesia as a global influence, and the ongoing economic prowess of Japan and the Republic of Korea.
So all of these issues we have dealt with in the context of an Alliance between two nations, an Alliance between friends, which has served us well for 60 years and will continue to serve us well into the future. Thank you.
JOURNALIST: Secretary Clinton, are the U.S. officials and the EU officials and former Prime Minister Tony Blair making any discernable progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue?
And can you conceive of a way to give the Palestinians a non-member state status at the UN while curbing or restricting their ability to go to the ICC or the ICJ? In other words, is there a way to give a nod toward statehood for the Palestinians but to prevent some of the deleterious consequences that could flow from that status, in your view?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, as I said on Tuesday, we believe strongly that the road to peace and two states living side by side does not go through New York. It goes through Jerusalem and Ramallah. And it is our absolute conviction that we need to get the parties back into negotiations on a direct face-to-face basis and that they have to be at that negotiating table working through the framework that President Obama laid out in May. That remains our focus. We are absolutely committed to pursuing that.
As you know, Dennis Ross and David Hale are back in the region, having been there as well just a few days ago. We are working closely with a range of international partners, and we intend to keep our attention where we think it needs to be, which is how we can try to convince both sides to do what must be done in order to bring about a resolution of the issues between them and that’s going to be certainly the core of all of our efforts for the next several days.
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to get into specifics, because a lot of these are very sensitive conversations that we are all having, and I don’t think it would benefit the decision-making for me to be speaking prematurely. I cannot give you the odds on how successful our entire effort will be, but I think there is certainly a growing recognition among not only the parties and the region, but beyond, that there is no real answer to all of these concerns that we share, other than negotiations on the tough issues, like borders, like security, and other matters that can only be resolved and will not be resolved if some other route is taken at the United Nations.
JOURNALIST: Could I direct this question to Defense Secretary Panetta and Defence Minister Smith? Could you detail how Australia is going to see a considerably increased number of US ships, aircraft, and personnel? And is the boosted US presence in Australia likely to involve existing facilities or new facilities?
HILLARY CLINTON: Stephen, you want to start?
STEPHEN SMITH: Well, we’ve been working on the Force Posture Review for the last 12 months. In Melbourne, at AUSMIN 2010, we established the joint working party. Then-Secretary Gates and I made the point that a lot of work needs to be done. But we were looking, and both Secretary Gates and I repeated this at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in July, from memory, that we were looking at opportunities for further exercises together, further training together, the possibility of pre-positioning stores and equipment in Australia for purposes of humanitarian relief and disaster assistance and potentially greater access to ports and our facilities. We’ve come to no final conclusions. Were very pleased with the progress that our officers have made, and we are pleased with the progress of discussions today. But we’ve got more work to do.
There are a range of things that were not envisioning. We don’t have United States bases in Australia. We have joint facilities, and they’ve been established for some time. They perform a very important function. And we’ve had those joint facilities since the mid 1980’s. So were not looking at additional or new facilities; were looking at the sharing of current facilities. And I’ve made the point in Australia, whilst we regard this very much potentially as an extension of work we already do, good work we already do, it will in an operational sense be the single largest potential change to the day-to-day working arrangements of the Alliance since the establishment of those joint facilities.
But no decisions have been made. When to come to finalise our deliberations, obviously decisions will be made and announcements made in due course. But we are pleased today with the work that our officials had done, both civilian and military, and pleased with the progress of discussions today.
LEON PANETTA: Obviously, I concur with what Minister Smith said about our discussions. I think the thing to understand is that we are in negotiations on what that Force Posture would look like. Those discussions are continuing, and our goal is basically to build on a very strong relationship that we’ve had throughout the years. We’ve done exchanges, we’ve had these exercises together. This is something we’ve done pretty much in the past, and our goal here is to try to strengthen that relationship as best we can so that we can send a clear signal to the Asia-Pacific region that United States and Australia are going to continue to work together to make very clear to those that would threaten us that we are going to stick together.
JOURNALIST: To Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta, given that the two US hikers were not released despite the promise of the Iranian President Ahmadinejad, what do you think that says about his role and the power relationships inside that regime, and how does that affect your efforts to try to curtail that country’s nuclear program?
And Secretary Panetta, do you share the view that a US that some kind of military strike on Iran’s program would merely delay that program?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, let me begin by perhaps providing a little context. We continue to hope that the two young Americans will be released as part of a humanitarian gesture by the Iranian Government. We have seen in the past some delays that have occurred after decisions were announced, so that at this point, we are not at all concerned, because we have received word through a number of sources publicly and privately that the decision will be executed on and that we will see their return to their families.
So I’m not going to speculate on what the reasons are or what it might mean or might not mean. But I’m going to count on the Iranian Government fulfilling the announcement that was made by the leadership of the country, and hope that it can be expedited and we can see their release very soon.
LEON PANETTA: And I, again, concur with Secretary Clinton’s description of that situation. I mean, its very difficult for us to try to speculate as to the differences and battles that are going on in the political leadership within Iran and to really understand just exactly what the nature of that is. Our goal here is to try to get these hikers released, and we’ve been assured that steps will be taken to make that happen, and we hope that does that is the case.
With regards to the broader question on Iran’s nuclear capability, we remain very concerned, very concerned, about their efforts to develop a nuclear capability, and we have indicated our concerns directly to the Iranians, and we have indicated that it is important for them if they want to become part of the international family that they have to take steps to stop progress in that area.
And I’m not going to talk specifically about what steps we would or would not take in order to make sure that doesn’t happen.
JOURNALIST: This is a question for Secretary Panetta. Will the US be able to fulfill its side of the agreement envisaged by what you’ve discussed and announced today, regardless of Defence Budget outcomes, from the current talks both in terms of personnel, existing equipment, and acquisitions of expensive new equipment projects on which interoperability depends?
And also for Minister Rudd, how do you plan to reassure Beijing that this is not somehow directed at them, especially given Secretary Panetta’s strong statement a few minutes ago about people in the region better look out?
LEON PANETTA: With regards to the budget situation, I think, as I’ve made clear, that even with the numbers that have been presented to us by the Congress that we believe that we can implement those savings in a way that protects the best military in world and that maintains our strength in dealing with all of the threats that we have to deal with in the world. And that’s particularly true with regards to the Asia-Pacific region.
My goal is to make clear that the United States will always maintain a very strong presence in that part of the world and that we will fulfill our commitments to Australia and all of our Allies in that part of the world in order to make very certain that the countries in the Asia-Pacific region understand that were there to stay.
KEVIN RUDD: On the second half of your question, I think it’s important to recognise the fundamental principle here which is the long-term prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region rests on continued strategic stability of the Asia-Pacific region.
The question is how is that stability to be maintained in a post-war period? And the answer is the strategic presence of United States. It has been the underpinnings of what we have seen unfold. And if I look particularly at the extraordinary economic growth levels that have occurred in China, by the countries in Northeast-Asia and Southeast-Asia and now South-Asia in recent decades, it’s because of the continued US strategic presence in the Asia-Pacific region.
I think the second point is this, that there is nothing particularly novel about US forces using Australian facilities. I think that’s been the case since 1951, under the terms of this Alliance, and then if we flick back another decade or so to 1941. There have been US troops, US Aircraft, there have been US Ships using our facilities since year dot of our strategic cooperation and probably going back to the days of the Great White Fleet in 1907/1908. But there’s nothing new under the sun. In terms of the further negotiations between officials, I simply reinforce the comments made before by Stephen Smith.
I think the last thing about the future of the region though, is we have a common regional interest in establishing a wider sense of security community across Asia and the Pacific. That is why we, and our friends the United States, but also countries right across East-Asia including China, have supported the inclusion of the United States and Russia at the upcoming East Asia Summit. That will have on it, obviously, a significant discussion of regional political and security questions, as it should.
And the overall objective there is to bring about a greater common sense of security between the various countries of our wider region greater transparency, greater mutual trust, expanding confidence and security building measures, the sorts of things the Europeans were working on something like 35 years ago or more. Frankly, in the Asia-Pacific region where we’ve started from very little of that, we have an opportunity now to build on that. So for those various reasons I believe our communications with our partners in the wider region should present no difficulty at all.
HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you.