Doorstop interview

  • Transcript, E&OE

JULIE BISHOP: I have continued with a busy round of meetings here at UN General Assembly Leaders' Week. I met with Bill Gates to discuss his goal of eliminating malaria worldwide. He invited me to join his Eliminate Malaria Council and I attended the first meeting and focussed on the Asia-Pacific where malaria is causing so much harm to the lives of a number of people in our region. I've also met with the Foreign Minister of Mexico. I again extended our condolences over the terrible earthquake and our hope that more survivors will be found. We discussed our bilateral trade relationship and other regional issues particularly our commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

I also met with the Foreign Minister of Iran, Javad Zarif, and we discussed a number of bilateral and regional issues including the situation in Iraq and we had a good discussion about ways that Australia and Iran might enhance our trading relationship. I have also attended a Commonwealth Foreign Ministers' Meeting and I'll be shortly attending a Pacific Island Foreign Ministers' meeting. I also met with Malala Yousafzai and we spoke about girls' education and ways that we can work together to empower young women and girls to attain an education, which of course is a pillar of Australia's aid program. I've also had the opportunity to meet with the President of the New York Federal Reserve, Bill Dudley, to discuss economic issues in both Australia and the United States and in particularly our commitment to enhancing our trade and investment relationship with the US.

JOURNALIST: Minister, on Mexico, yesterday you said you were going to offer support. Has Mexico asked that it would like any support and are any Australians caught up in it?

JULIE BISHOP: I've not received any advice to suggest that Australians are caught up in the earthquakes. We have been making enquiries at a consular level to ensure that all Australians that we know of in Mexico are accounted for and we certainly urge people who are in Mexico to contact their families and friends to ensure that people know that they are safe. I did offer support. Mexico is currently looking for technical assistance. They are facing a very dire circumstance of trying to recover bodies and also find survivors from the collapse of many buildings. It's very technical and difficult work. They have teams from the United States and Israel and Japan who are experts in this field. I certainly offered Australia's technical support should they require it and they were very grateful for it, but at this stage they had sufficient support from the US in particular, and also other countries who have specific expertise in this field. We discussed our relationship generally but Mexico is very grateful for our statements of support on behalf of the Australian people.

JOURNALIST: Today Minister, President Trump announced a new Executive Order on Korea with tough new sanctions and penalties for businesses that trade or even people who travel to North Korea. Do you think those are going to have an impact?

JULIE BISHOP: The issue of North Korea's illegal behaviour and continued defiance of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions has continued to be the topic of much discussion here at the United Nations. President Trump has issued a new Executive Order imposing further sanctions on North Korean individuals and entities and also foreign companies who are doing business with North Korea and I certainly welcome this announcement. Australia is of the view that we must put maximum economic pressure on North Korea to ensure that it is compelled to return to the negotiating table and Australia will continue to review our autonomous sanctions, that is the sanctions that we impose over and above those mandated by the UN Security Council. It is absolutely essential that all nations apply the sanctions that have been mandated by the UN Security Council in full, and that they also review their own sanctions that can be applied over and above those agreed to by the Security Council.

JOURNALIST: And what was the tenor of the discussions with Iran yesterday, Iran's president hit back very strongly at Donald Trump and Australia, of course, as a close ally of the US. Did Iran raise any concerns with you about Australia's endorsement of that speech?

JULIE BISHOP: We discussed a whole range of issues, most particularly the JCPOA which is the nuclear deal entered into between the United States and others, and Iran, and that was the focus of our discussions. Australia is of the view that the mechanism, the JCPOA, should remain in place, it is the best available option to deal with Iran's nuclear programs and we certainly wouldn't want to see it breakdown in the absence of any viable and credible alternative. So that was the focus of our discussions in relation to US-Iranian affairs and relationships.

JOURNALIST: Just finally, one last question on the big domestic story of the day in Australia. Tony Abbott allegedly being head-butted, do you have any concerns about the same-sex marriage debate in Australia?

JULIE BISHOP: Well violence of any form is never acceptable, and it doesn't matter who it is, where it is or in relation to what matter. Violence in any circumstance is just not acceptable.

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