WASHINGTON, Aug. 13, 2014 —
The new U.S.–Australia force posture agreement will broaden and deepen the alliance’s contributions to regional security and advance America’s ongoing strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Sydney yesterday.
Hagel made his remarks during a news conference following the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation -- the main annual forum for talks between diplomatic and defense officials from both nations. He appeared with U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Australian Defense Minister David Johnston following the agreement signing.
The long-term agreement calls for rotational deployment of U.S. Marines in Darwin and American airmen in northern Australia.
Hagel also provided his insights from the ministerial conference.
“Today's agenda for the U.S.-Australia alliance spanned issues ranging from the South China Sea to Iraq, where Secretary Kerry and I expressed our appreciation for Australia's offer to contribute to the humanitarian relief operations. … America is prepared to intensify its security cooperation as Iraq undertakes and makes progress toward political reform,” he said.
The conference also addressed the Ukrainian crisis and Australia's loss of 38 citizens and residents aboard the Malaysia Airlines jet that officials believe was shot down July 17. Hagel offered condolences to the Australian people, especially the families of those who were lost in the tragedy.
“America will continue to work with Australia as we have said clearly and plainly to provide requested support and assistance,” he said.
The secretary noted he had come to Australia after a visit to India and that he has consulted closely with the defense ministers of Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. “I see a new, committed resolve to work together to build a security system across this Indo-Pacific region,” he said, “recognizing the independent sovereignty of nations, respecting that sovereignty, but also recognizing the common interests that we all have for a stable, peaceful, secure world.”
The U.S.-Australian alliance will remain a bedrock for a stable and secure order, he added.
“We live in an immensely complicated world,” Hagel said, “but a world that is still full of hope and promise if we endeavor to bring resolute, strong leadership … that is committed to these virtues and values and principles that we all share, and living up to the highest responsibilities, as [former] Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies once said.”
Hagel also quoted Menzies from his visit to the United States in 1960, when he said strength is admirable, but only for the responsibilities it accepts and discharges.
“America and Australia in this historic alliance have always, always sought to live up to those responsibilities around the world,” he said.
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)