U.S Secretary of State Mr Michael Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper touched down in Australia on Saturday evening, dining with Prime Minister Scott Morrison before engaging in Australia-US ministerial meetings on Sunday at NSW Parliament House.
Selected remarks of Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo And Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, with Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne, and Australian Minister of Defense Linda Reynolds At a Press Availability
SECRETARY POMPEO: Let me be clear: The United States is a Pacific nation. We care deeply about what happens here and we’re here to stay. And I want all Australians to know they can always rely on the United States of America. And just as we talk about Britain as a special relationship, we think of this as an unbreakable relationship. It’s grounded in our shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.
I – as Foreign Minister Payne said, I just wrapped up a series of regional meetings in Bangkok, where ASEAN partners reaffirmed our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. We’re thrilled to have Australia as a close partner in this effort. In particular, we’re working closely to increase our engagement with partners throughout Southeast Asia. The United States and Australia want our friends to achieve prosperity through trade and investment, and we’re committed to creating the conditions for that to happen responsibly. Talking about basic things, about respect for national sovereignty, openness, transparency, property rights, the rule of law, and a healthy respect for human rights. Australia’s $2 billion infrastructure financing facility for the Pacific is a great step forward.
We’re not asking nations to choose between the United States and China, because that’s not how we operate. Cooperation with the U.S. and our Australian friends brings mutual benefits, not zero-sum deals where one side wins and the other risks losing. We have a proven formula for prosperity which includes property rights and the rule of law and competition. These qualities are on display in our bilateral relationship and our economic ties, the extent of which is often underestimated. The United States invests nearly $170 billion in Australia each and every year. The United States is by far the largest investor here in Australia, accounting for more than 25 percent of all foreign direct investment.
Moving beyond economics, we Pacific powers agree it’s important to shine sunlight on bad behavior, however and whenever it occurs. Australia courageously and independently raised the alarm about the risk of China’s 5G ambitions even before we caught on. We’re both concerned about China’s militarization of their man-made islands in the South China Sea, and we’re both keeping an eye on investment that mires our friends in debt and corruption.
Our multilateral work together matters too. Today we discussed greater cooperation with partners like Japan to help us build a network of alliance and partners all across the region. The United States welcomes Australia’s increased engagement with India, another democracy, including through the Quad format, and we’ll actively explore ways our four countries can increase cooperation.
SECRETARY ESPER: The U.S. Department of Defense is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s armed forces in support of a safe, prosperous, free, and open Indo-Pacific region.
I am very encouraged by our conversations today. We discussed a wide range of issues regarding our cooperative efforts to advance our shared security interests across the region. I’m pleased to note we’ve recently reached our milestone of 2,500 United States Marines at the rotational force in Darwin. Our partnership there enables great combined training between U.S. and Australian troops and marks a significant step forward for both countries.
We are continuing to expand our partnership with other Pacific Island countries through our security cooperation in places like Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Palau. We commend Australia’s Pacific step-up, which mirrors our own increased engagement in the region, and together we remain committed to maintaining the openness of the global commons. The United States will continue to fly, to sail, and operate wherever international law allows.
We also stand firmly against a disturbing pattern of aggressive behavior, destabilizing behavior from China. This includes weaponizing the global commons, using predatory economics and debt for sovereignty deals, and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations’ intellectual property. In the Indo-Pacific, power should not determine position and debt should not determine destiny. The United States will not stand by idly while any one nation attempts to reshape the region to its favor at the expense of others, and we know our allies and partners will not either.
The Indo-Pacific is home to a strong network of like-minded nations who are willing to stand up to protect the rules-based order that has preserved the peace and enabled prosperity for the past 70 years. The United States is one such nation, and we remain committed to the region’s future. In partnership with our mates here in Australia and alongside our friends throughout the Indo-Pacific, we will continue to build a security environment that will ensure peace and stability for generations to come.
Edited by staff