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Austin Stays in Touch With Australian Leaders During Indo-Pacific Trip

March 19, 2021 | BY Jim Garamone , DOD News

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III continued his outreach to Indo-Pacific allies and partners with a call to Australia's Foreign Minister Marise Payne even as he was flying to meet with Indian leaders in New Delhi.

Austin made the call to highlight the importance and the strength of the U.S.-Australia Alliance, often called "the Unbreakable Alliance," said David Helvey, acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific affairs. Helvey spoke to the press traveling with Austin about the call.

Man in business attire thanks people in military uniforms.
Thanking Troops
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III greets members of the 65th Medical Brigade, and thanks the frontline medical professionals for their significant role in helping protect U.S. Forces Korea personnel from COVID-19 before departing South Korea for India, March 19, 2021.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 210319-D-BN624-0220

Austin thanked Payne, who also serves temporarily as Australia’s defense minister, for Australia's support in Afghanistan and in the Middle East as part of the Defeat-ISIS campaign. He also praised Australia for the increased investment and involvement in building capacity and capabilities in Indo-Pacific nations. Helvey said Australia is a leading voice in the Indo-Pacific region.

Austin also spoke with Payne about the quadrilateral process. The leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States — called the Quad — held a virtual meeting March 12 that discussed the happenings in the Indo-Pacific. While there is a security consulting part to the Quad, it is not a formal treaty. Rather it is a way for like-minded nations to work together, Helvey said.

Man in business attire boards plane.
India Bound
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III boards the plane that will take him to India as he departs Osan Air Base, South Korea, March 19, 2021.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 210319-D-BN624-0411A

Austin shared some of his thoughts and reflections on his talks with Japanese and South Korean foreign affairs and defense leaders during his meetings in Tokyo and Seoul.

"It was a good exchange," Helvey said. "And there's a lot of commonality of views and assessments between the United States and Australia on regional security challenges like China and North Korea."

The two leaders committed to stay in touch, and to strengthen the U.S.-Australia Treaty. The defense officials want to increase the linkages among like-minded nations throughout the region in support of common objectives and support the rules-based international order.