U.S. – Australia Relations: AUSMIN
Opening remarks at Australia-U.S. Ministerial
Sydney | July 26, 1996
The U.S. and Australia Meet the Challenges of the New Millennium
Prime Minister Howard, thank you for your warm welcome.
These annual consultations reflect the strength of our ties and the importance of our objectives. On the foundation of our commitment to open societies and open markets, our nations have built an alliance that advances our shared interests and safeguards the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.
During the past three years, President Clinton has put an unprecedented emphasis on strengthening our interlocking security and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific region. Our 45-year-old partnership with Australia -- the southern anchor of our network of treaty alliances -- is crucial to that goal. Our agenda this year highlights the critical importance of our joint efforts in three areas: regional developments and challenges, defense and strategic arrangements, and global cooperation. Let me touch briefly on each.
First, while the nations of the Asia-Pacific region have never had a greater chance to work together on behalf of peace and stability, important challenges remain. Your leadership is crucial -- from supporting the freeze and eventual dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program to promoting reconciliation and reconstruction in Cambodia. We also want to continue working with you to promote peaceful change in Burma. I look forward to discussing the steps that the United States has taken to strengthen regional security through our Joint Declaration with Japan and our deepening engagement with China. And we share a strong interest in the continued progress of the ASEAN Regional Forum that Foreign Minister Downer and I just attended.
Second, even as the United States welcomes new approaches to regional cooperation, we share your interest in strengthening our bilateral security ties. Our treaty alliances will be the pillars of our security in the next century. We are committed to reinforcing them. We will maintain our forward-deployed presence of approximately 100,000 troops in the Pacific. I look forward to discussing plans for expanding training facilities in Australia, as well as opportunities for joint and combined exercises within the next year. The security declaration we issue tomorrow will make clear the enduring role for our alliance in the post-Cold War world.
Third, we must deepen our global cooperation, especially our shared efforts to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Australia played a critical role in negotiating the biological and chemical weapons convention. Now our joint leadership remains crucial to completing a comprehensive test ban treaty. We believe that the text of the treaty as it now stands represents a concrete and essential step toward further nuclear disarmament and a major gain in security for all. We also look to Australia as an important partner in our effort to negotiate an eventual ban on anti-personnel land mines and to achieve a fissile material cutoff convention.
Australian leadership and the U.S.-Australian partnership in building a strong, open global trading system will be called on again in the months ahead. We must work together in Manila in November to maintain APEC's momentum toward free and open trade in the Asia-Pacific region. In Singapore this December, we must use the landmark first ministerial of the World Trade Organization to press for full implementation of our commitments in the Uruguay Round, and to set the WTO's priorities for the early 21st century.
Today we can also act to strengthen our joint efforts to confront global threats such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, international crime, and damage to the global environment. Although terrorism is not formally on our agenda, I hope that Australia will join the United States in adopting and pursuing the practical steps against terrorism endorsed by the P-8 leaders last month in Lyon. Citizens in both our countries will benefit from our agreement to develop a concrete agenda for counternarcotics cooperation. The transfer today of the secretariat of the International Coral Reef Initiative from American to Australian stewardship highlights our expanding partnership to conserve the natural resources that are essential to the health and prosperity of all people.
Finally, our common commitment to democracy and human rights also finds expression in our advocacy of those values around the globe. Most recently, the Australian Government has set up the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Forum here in Sydney, bringing together the region's independent human rights commissions for the first time. This is a hopeful development which we strongly support.
The breadth of our agenda today reflects the depth of our partnership. Together, the United States and Australia face formidable tasks, from maintaining the common defense to preserving ecosystems whose complexity we are only just beginning to comprehend. I am confident that our shared history and warm ties will enable us to meet the challenges of a new millennium.