Wednesday, November 20, 2013


AAP November 21, 2013
Julie Bishop and John Kerry
Defence Minister David Johnston, left, and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, second left, greet US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel (2nd-R) ahead of the Ausmin talks. Source: Getty Images
AUSTRALIA and the United States have signed an agreement to cement co-operation on deployment of US Marines for training in Australia's top end.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel says plans for expanded training of US forces in Australia, announced when United States President Barack Obama visited two years ago, remain on track, with 1100 Marines visiting next year.

Mr Hagel says Australia and the US were now working side by side in the Philippines relief mission.

"As we continue to implement our force posture initiatives with Australia, we also agreed today on a statement of principles that we just signed that will ensure these efforts are closely aligned with both our nations' shared regional security objectives," he told reporters after the annual Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) talks in Washington.

Mr Hagel said Australia and the US would start negotiations next month on a binding agreement that would govern these initiatives and further defence co-operation.

He said Australia and the US were continuing to implement the agreement on relocating an advanced space surveillance telescope to Western Australia, announced at last year's AUSMIN in Perth.

AUSMIN, attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Mr Hagel and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston is the premier forum for Australia-US strategic talks.

This was the first for the new Abbott government, with both sides reaffirming the strength of the relationship.

Mr Kerry said the US could ask for no better friend than Australia while Senator Johnston said this was Australia's most strategic alliance.

Mr Kerry, speaking at the end of AUSMIN talks, refused to buy into the diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia over spying claims.

''We just don't talk about intelligence matters in public and we're not going to begin now,'' he told reporters when asked whether the US had asked Australia to tap the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle.

The talks touched on a broad range of security issues and Mr Kerry made another significant announcement with implications for Australia.

He said the US and Afghanistan had finalised the language of the bilateral security agreement which will govern the ongoing presence of US and other international forces once the NATO mission in Afghanistan officially ends.

- See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/australia-us-on-track-for-expanded-defence-training-in-northern-territory/story-e6frg8yo-1226765002274#sthash.SAsqPSIF.dpuf 

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