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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III Remarks Welcoming Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Richard Marles to the Pentagon

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. We've done quite a few things here in the last several months, together. I just saw you a couple weeks ago in Cambodia at the ADMM-Plus.

Now, 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 the United States and Australia is the strongest that it has 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 destabilizing 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 defense industrial ties. We'll also talk about our growing trilateral cooperation with Japan, and our critical work with India through the Quad. And at moments of challenge like this, we're reminded again of the importance of staunch allies and good friends. So Richard, it's great to see you and thanks for making the trip. And I'm looking forward to not only a good discussion, but for the next couple of days, some great interactions.

AUSTRALIAN MINISTER OF DEFENCE RICHARD MARLES: Well thank you Mr. Secretary, it's really a thrill to be here and it's great to see you again. As we would say, "long time no see," although we saw each other (inaudible) 10 days ago in Cambodia.

I've 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 saw the sheer complexity of what's involved in building a submarine. So we're very grateful for the opportunity for that.

I want to reaffirm the sentiments you've just expressed. As we go into our meeting of AUSMIN and then the trilateral meeting with Secretary Wallace on Wednesday, of the UK, we are meeting at a time when the strategic landscape we face, collectively by the Australia, the United States, and the world really is as complex and precarious 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 the way forward – 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 environment it's a time to be close with friends.

And in that sense I agree, I think the alliance has never been more important, and I don't think the alliance has ever been in better shape. And that's a big thing to say, because the alliance has always been in very good shape.

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

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