SEPTEMBER 23, 2021 – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III sat down at the Pentagon today to discuss how the enhanced trilateral security partnership with the two nations and the United Kingdom will move forward.
Morrison, who met with President Joe Biden yesterday, is in Washington for a meeting of the quad partnership of India, Japan, Australia and the United States.
The new trilateral relationship “is a testament to the strength, resilience and foresight of our relationship,” Austin said at the beginning of his meeting with Morrison.
“President Biden has noted that no regional divide separates the interest of our Atlantic and Pacific partners, and AUKUS [Australia, United Kingdom and the United States] is designed to build on our existing alliances.”
The meeting comes a week after the Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultation that was hosted by the State Department. “Today, our alignment is stronger than ever, including seeing the region’s challenges through a similar lens and sharing the same sense of urgency,” Austin said.
“So, we’ll continue to cooperate closely on force posture, strategic capabilities, regional alignment and military operations. And all of this common work strengthens our ability to deter threats [for a] free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Morrison said the evacuation of Afghans from Kabul showed the U.S.-Australian alliance at work. Both nations had troops on the ground at Kabul airport. But, he said, there was no way the Australians could have evacuated the 4,100 people they did without the U.S. military, and he thanked Austin for that support. He said the evacuation effort is “a symbol of the nature of our partnership. Australia has always looked to the United States, but we never leave it to the United States.
“That is at the heart of our partnership,” he continued. “We both understand our responsibilities in it. We accept them, we share them. We honor them in how we deliver it on the ground in so many theaters.”
This continues with AUKUS, he said. The trilateral partnership, “adds to the partnerships that exist within the region, whether it’s the quad partnerships and relationships, or the wonderful relationships we have with the [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] in the region,” Morrison said. “But importantly, [AUKUS builds on] the relationships with NATO, and relationships with our European partners, and bringing that focus to the Indo-Pacific.”
BY JIM GARAMONE, DOD NEWS