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

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Deputy Prime Minister Marles, welcome back to the Pentagon. It's great to have -- it's always great to have you here, and this time it's not your birthday, but hopefully, you'll come back on your next birthday.


SEC. AUSTIN:  And it's great to see you again after our successful summit meetings in December at AUSMIN. In that forum, we agreed to deepen our cooperation on force posture, to strengthen our coordination on Pacific priorities, to increase our resilience in the face of climate change and to better integrate our defense industries. 

We also pledged to find new ways to work closely with Japan as we pursue our common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. That's a region where all countries can chart their own course, where all states respect international rules and norms and where all disputes are resolved peacefully without coercion or intimidation. 

In December, we also signaled our commitment to announce a way forward on AUKUS in early 2023. Through our work on AUKUS, we've already made significant progress on developing the optimal pathway for Australia to acquire a conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarine capability at the earliest possible date. 

Our discussions today will help us make further progress in our alliance and trilaterally with AUKUS, and I'm also looking forward to hearing about your upcoming defense strategic review. And all this is yet another reminder that our unbreakable alliance is capable of great things. It has, indeed, endured for generations, and it remains vital to regional peace and security, and its special strength is rooted in the shared values of our two democracies, proud democracies. 

And in turbulent times, you know, we can't overstate the importance of staunch allies and good friends. So Richard, thanks again for making the trip, and as always, I look forward to a great discussion. 

MIN. MARLES:  Well, thank you. Thank you, Secretary Austin. It's great to see you again, great to be back in Washington again, great to see the attention to detail that the Pentagon brings to bear with its cookies with the Australian flag, so we're -- we love that. 

It's -- to press pick up from where you finished, we have shared that (inaudible). What's really clear in all the meetings that I've had with you, and also trilaterally with the U.K. through the great work of AUKUS is there is a really profound sense of shared vision right now between our countries in a world where the global rules-based order is under pressure, and where countries which stand for it are meant to be working together as we are to uphold it, so that we do enjoy a free and open world. And we see obviously the global rules-based order being under pressure in Ukraine. We see it in the Indo-Pacific, as well, and we're really appreciative of this administration's presence in the Indo-Pacific. It is -- it matters a great deal, and it's very important that we are maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

I come to you today having just been to a 2+2 meeting in the U.K., AUKMIN, following up from AUSMIN which we did in December. Again, there's an enormous sense of shared vision between ourselves and the U.K. and others, and with you and the U.K., and as we walk down the road with AUKUS, we say, the phrase in Australia is we're getting to the business end of the season when it comes to AUKUS. And we really appreciate the opportunity of being able to fill you in on how AUKMIN went during the week and talk about how we can bring the (inaudible) announcement on AUKUS, and I'm really looking forward to being able to have that opportunity with you today. 

And the final point -- you mentioned our defense strategic review. That is we -- that is also very much a big project for us right now and it's coming to its close, so we look forward to being able to take you through how that is progressing. 

SEC. AUSTIN:  Well, we are ecstatic to have you here, and look forward to a great discussion. Thanks, everybody.