Anne Gearan / Associated Press & Simon Mann / The Sydney Morning Herald – 2011-09-16 01:00:54
Deal Near on More US Military Access in Australia
Anne Gearan / Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (September 15, 2011) — American and Australian leaders are nearing an agreement to allow the US to expand its military presence in Australia. US defense officials say the deal would let the United States position equipment there and increase US access to Australian military bases.
The two nations would conduct more joint exercises as the US and its allies maneuver to counter an increasingly assertive China. The arrangement is expected to be a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia later this year.
The top diplomatic and defense ministers of both countries are meeting in San Francisco on Thursday for talks on the basing arrangement, military cooperation in the Pacific region and other issues. US officials say they aren’t looking to establish American bases in Australia.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
US, Australia Inch towards Troops, Military Deal
Simon Mann / The Sydney Morning Herald
(September 16, 2011) — Australia and the US are edging closer to a deal that would see more US troops using Australian facilities for training and joint exercises, as well as the positioning of US military equipment in Australia.
Concluding a day of ministerial talks marking the 60th anniversary of the Australia-US alliance, both nations reported progress on their plan to deepen military ties amid a fast-evolving Asia Pacific.
But they rejected any suggestion that America’s expanded use of Australian bases should be of concern to China, which is asserting greater influence in the region.
The ramping up of co-operation “should present no difficulty at all” for regional players, the foreign minister, Kevin Rudd, assured reporters at a joint news conference, citing America’s stabilizing influence in the region and the fact the US had been invited to join the East Asia Summit.
“And the overall objective there is to bring about a greater common sense of security between the various countries of our wider region,” he added.
Newly confirmed US defense secretary Leon Panetta was more blunt: “Our goal is basically to build on a very strong relationship… as best we can so that we can send a clear signal to the Asia Pacific region that the United States and Australia are going to continue to work together to make very clear to those that would threaten us that we’re going to stick together.”
The US has clashed recently with China over rights in crucial international shipping lanes, with Beijing rejecting a US proposal to host talks between China and Japan on the issue. Some smaller nations have also bridled at China’s growing influence.
The extent and terms of the new cooperation between the ANZUS partners could be ready for unveiling during President Obama’s two-day visit to Australia in November.
But the Defense Minister, Stephen Smith, declined to elaborate on details of the tie-up, saying only that “we’ve come to no final conclusions. We’re very pleased with the progress our officers have made … but we’ve got more work to do,” he said.
Mr Smith added that the new arrangements would denote the “single largest change to the day to day working arrangements of the alliance since the establishment of those joint facilities.”
The so-called Australia and US Ministerial consultations (AUSMIN) talks were held in San Francisco’s sprawling former military base-cum-national park the Presidio, beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, where the ANZUS treaty was signed in 1951.
A communique issued by the parties elaborated on their decision to include cyber attacks within the treaty, committing them to going to war in the event of a massive cyber attack against either nation.
The parties, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, exchanged compliments over the nations’ enduring partnership.
“Although Australians have taken over the Oscars, Tour de France and now the US Open,” Mrs. Clinton remarked, “our affection for your country remains undiminished.”
She added: “The communique we have produced today is forward-looking and action-oriented, and it reflects our confidence in this alliance and what our two countries can, and will, accomplish together.”
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