Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel welcomed Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the Pentagon this morning with a full-honors ceremony followed by what Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby called a productive discussion on future defense cooperation between the United States and Australia.
In a statement summarizing the meeting, Kirby said Abbott conveyed his deep commitment to the U.S.-Australia alliance.
“Secretary Hagel expressed appreciation for Australia's past and ongoing contributions to Afghanistan and congratulated Prime Minister Abbott on the force posture agreement that he and President Obama announced yesterday,” Kirby said, “noting that the 25-year agreement will provide an enduring framework for the initiatives that our governments embarked upon in November 2011.”
The agreement is a significant milestone in the U.S.-Australia alliance, the admiral added, and will serve as a foundation for the growth of the current U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Air Force rotational presence and activities in Australia, as well as future initiatives that the United States and Australia pursue.
“The secretary and Prime Minister Abbott agreed that the alliance will continue to be an anchor of stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific as we respond jointly to shared challenges in the region,” Kirby said. “To that end, the secretary and prime minister discussed expanding our bilateral cooperation on ballistic missile defense while also working trilaterally with Japan on Australia's submarine program.”
The press secretary said Hagel is looking forward to exploring these topics further at the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultation known as AUSMIN later this year.
Before meeting with the secretary today, Kirby said, Abbott paid his respects at Arlington National Cemetery