Opening remarks - Bilateral meeting with US Defense Secretary Austin

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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6 December 2022

US SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, LLOYD J. AUSTIN III: Deputy Prime Minister Marles, it’s great to see you again, welcome back to Washington. It's always great spending time together. And we've done quite a few things here in the last several months together.

I just saw you a couple of weeks ago in Cambodia, at the ADMM plus. And now, as we look ahead for the next two days, we've got a busy week in front of us with AUSMIN tomorrow, and AUKUS on Wednesday. And today, we're focused on ambitious steps to further strengthen our unbreakable Alliance. And that's within reach because our two democracies are so closely aligned on our most important strategic challenges and opportunities.

In fact, I think it's safe to say that the Alliance between United States and Australia is as strong as it's ever been, and it remains vital to regional security. Our two countries share a common vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, and we seek a region where all countries are free to chart their own course. Where all states adhere to international rules. And where all disputes are resolved peacefully, and free from coercion.

Now we're meeting at a time of tension, especially from Russia’s reckless and lawless invasion of Ukraine, as well as from coercive and destabilising military activities by the People's Republic of China. But the United States and Australia are stepping up to support the rules-based international order. Today, we'll discuss a range of issues, including deepening our bilateral security cooperation on posture, capabilities, and defence industrial ties. 

We'll also talk about our growing trilateral cooperation with Japan, and our critical work with India through the Quad. And in moments of challenge like this, we're reminded again of the importance of staunch allies and friends. 

So Richard, it's great to see you, and thanks for making the trip. I look forward to not only a good discussion today, but for the next couple of days some great interactions. 

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: Thank you, Mr Secretary. It's a thrill to be here, and it's great to see you again. As we would say, long time no see, given that we saw each other literally about 10 days ago in Cambodia. But I really appreciated the opportunity of doing more and more with you.

We've spent the day with Ambassador Kennedy at Electric Boat, which was a really fantastic experience, and just saw the sheer complexity of what's involved in building a submarine. So we’re very grateful for the opportunity of that. But I guess I want to agree with the sentiments that you've just expressed as we go into our meeting of AUSMIN and the trilateral meeting with Secretary Wallace on Wednesday, from the UK. 

I think we are meeting at a time where the strategic landscape that we face - by that I mean collectively, both Australia and the United States, the world really – is as complex and precarious as it's been at any point really since the end of the Second World War. We see it in Ukraine, with the rules-based order being tested there, but we see it in the Indo Pacific as well. And every step of the way forward is not necessarily obvious, but one of the things that's really clear, as you've said, is that in this moment it's a time to be close with friends. And in that sense, I agree, I think the Alliance has never been more important. I think the Alliance has never been in better shape, and that's a big thing to say because the Alliance has always been in very good shape.

And so we feel there is a very strong alignment between our two governments right now. We are really looking forward to an ambitious agenda for AUSMIN tomorrow. We'll have the conversation about the defence side of that today, and we're really looking forward to that as well. But we think that this is a moment of real closeness and shared mission between Australia and the United States, and we are enormously grateful for the Alliance and for the relationship with you. So it’s great to see you again, Lloyd.

SECRETARY AUSTIN: Well, welcome and what a delight to have you. Thanks, everybody.

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