Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III began three days of intense talks with two of the United States’ closest allies: Australia and the United Kingdom.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, who also serves as defense minister, came to the Pentagon today for defense discussions as part of the defense ministers’ meeting, which will end tomorrow at the United States Department of State. On Wednesday, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace will join Marles and Austin as the three leaders discuss the Australia, United Kingdom, United States security agreement.
“Today, we are focused on ambitious steps to further strengthen our unbreakable alliance,” Austin told Marles at the start of the meeting.
He noted that Australia and the United States are closely aligned on the most important strategic challenges and opportunities. “In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the alliance is between [the] The United States and Australia are stronger than ever, and it remains vital to regional security,” the secretary said.
Australia and the United States uphold the rules-based international order in which countries are allowed to navigate their own affairs, and disputes are resolved peacefully and free of coercion, he said.
Austin said the meetings come at a very difficult time as Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues and “coercive and destabilizing military actions by the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
The defense leaders will discuss a range of issues including deepening bilateral security cooperation. They will also talk about the growing trilateral cooperation with Japan. Finally, they will discuss continued cooperation with India through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue comprising the US, Australia, Japan and India.
Before coming to the Pentagon, Marles visited submarine builder Electric Boat, where he observed the complexities of building a nuclear-powered submarine. The two leaders last met during the Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers Meeting in Cambodia 10 days ago.
Marles emphasized that the strategic landscape “is as complex as it has been, really, since the end of World War II.”
Even so, the US-Australia alliance is as strong as ever, he said. “We think there is a very strong alignment between our two governments right now,” said Marles. “We are looking forward to an ambitious agenda.”