SYDNEY, 26 JULY 2019 (AAP) — The most senior defence and foreign affairs figures in the United States are coming to Australia for ministerial talks.
U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper will meet their Australian counterparts in Sydney on 04 August.
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the discussions will focus on collaboration in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific.
“We will discuss Australia’s Pacific Step-Up, closer military-to-military cooperation, the continuing effort to combat terrorism and violent extremism online, and address key issues of regional security,” they said on Friday.
The annual AUSMIN dialogue will also focus on trade.
“Our trade and investment relationship is thriving, underpinned by our bilateral free trade agreement,” the ministers said.
Two-way investment reached $1.7 trillion in 2018 and the U.S is by far the largest source of foreign investment into Australia.
Dr Esper was sworn into his role at a White House ceremony this week.
Ahead of his visit down under, he talked up the importance of strengthening alliances.
The talks come at a crucial time for the alliance, with Dr Esper accusing China and Russia of seeking to displace the U.S and “shift the balance of power in their favour”, Iran of sowing discord, and terrorist groups such as Islamic State of looking for new safe havens to plot against the West.
“We will strengthen our alliances and attract new partners,” Dr Esper said at his Pentagon welcoming ceremony on Thursday.
“A strong network of like-minded nations that are willing and able to fight together is an advantage that our adversaries do not possess.”
Pompeo will travel to Bangkok on 01 August to co-chair the U.S-ASEAN and Lower Mekong Initiative ministerial meetings before arriving in Australia on 03 August marking the first visit from a U.S secretary of state.
His visit will include a meeting with Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“As part of his AUSMIN engagement, the secretary will participate in dialogues aimed at strengthening the alliance, working shoulder-to-shoulder with Australia to meet global and transnational challenges, and safeguarding sovereignty in Pacific Island countries and Southeast Asia,” the State Department said in a statement.
He will also speak at the State Library of New South Wales.
Pompeo will depart Sydney on 05 August or meetings with the leaders of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau. (PACNEWS)