Press Conference at the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations

  • Transcript, E&OE

MIKE POMPEO: Well, good morning, everyone. I want to first thank Minister forForeign Affairs Julie Bishop and the Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne,as well as their team, for joining us here in California.

SinceSecretary of State George Shultz and Admiral William Crowe travelled toCanberra for the first AUSMIN in 1985, our two nations have grown much closer,and I expect that will continue. We're proud to call Australia one of our bestfriends and strongest allies. They're truly that all across the world, and wewill continue to work closely together on a range of key bilateral and globalissues.

SecretaryMattis and I have had two great days of meetings with Foreign Minister Bishopand Defence Minister Payne. We coordinated closely on aligning our strategicpriorities in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. We also reinforced our commitment toANZUS Treaty, which came into force in 1951, to coordinate how we meet commonthreats. I'll let Secretary Mattis speak more directly on our shared securityefforts, but I can say that on that front our cooperation and our efforts andour alliance is rock solid.

We alsostrategised on how best to pursue our shared vision of a free and openIndo-Pacific. Both of our countries will continue to work with likemindedpartners to protect freedom of the skies and seas, to promote market economies,to support good governance and liberty, and to insulate sovereign nations fromexternal coercion.

Next week, aweek from yesterday, I'll be articulating more closely and more completely ourvision for a thoroughly successful Indo-Pacific economic relationship. I'll bespeaking to the Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington along withSecretaries Perry and Ross. But make no mistake about it – the economicrelationship between our two countries is strong, whether that's foreign directinvestment, the work that we do on technology together, the fact that we haveAustralian students here and American students learning there. The economicrelationship between our two countries is unrivalled in the world, and I thinkeveryone in the region should know that.

The UnitedStates and Australia speak with one voice also in calling for a final, fullyverified, denuclearised North Korea, as agreed to by Chairman Kim. Australiahas been a great supporter. They understand that the pressure campaign againstthe DPRK, including the continued enforcement of sanctions, is an imperativefor the world to successfully succeed in denuclearizing North Korea.

Our teams atDepartment of State and Department of Defense will keep doing their part tostrengthen this alliance that has done so much for our two nations and for theregional and global peace and stability. The United States and Australia bothknow we can count on each other constantly, even as challenges presentthemselves in an era of great competition and uncertainty.

I'd like tonow invite Foreign Minister Bishop to say a few words.

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you, Secretary Pompeo and SecretaryMattis, for hosting this AUSMIN Meeting, our annual Australia-US ministerialdialogue. Both Senator Payne and I were delighted by the warm welcome. We thinkit is so fitting that it should be here on the West coast, as we both have akey focus on peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

It was alsofitting that it should be held at the Hoover Institution, for the 31st Presidentof the United States, after whom this institution is named, spent a number ofhis formative years in Australia and was a key player in the establishment andbuilding of our global mining and resources industry. And we're delighted to behere also because it was near here, 67 years ago, that Australia and the USsigned the ANZUS Treaty.

So this isan opportunity, and has been an opportunity, for us to confirm the strength andthe steadfastness of our relationship. We reinforced our collective commitmentto the Alliance, and we spoke about ways that we can continue to work together.We have a similar view on so many regional and global issues, and we arealigned in so many important ways.

Ours is apartnership about promoting stability and security and prosperity in ourregion, and we discussed ways where we can continue to work closely together toenhance that commitment, including in economic engagement. We are certainlylooking forward to your upcoming speech on the US' engagement, economically - speaking,in the region.

Over twodays and five working sessions, we covered a lot of ground, and we haveproduced a fact sheet, which sets out our joint work plan. These meetings aregreat opportunities for us to reassess our priorities and then confirm whatwork we're going to do together in the future.

A key focusof this AUSMIN was our commitment to the Indo-Pacific, and this is arguably theworld's most dynamic region. There are many opportunities but also manychallenges. The United States is the global bastion of freedom and democracy,and the great appeal of the United States and one of its undoubted strengths isits network of alliances and partnerships around the world. And so as alliesand partners, we discussed ways that we can work more constructively withcountries in our region, including the 10 members of ASEAN, with China, withJapan, with India, and with the Pacific Island nations.

We diddiscuss challenges. And we congratulate the United States on the recentSingapore Summit and your efforts in bringing stability to the KoreanPeninsula, and we certainly back your efforts in that regard.

We discussedMiddle East conflicts. We discussed our work together in countering terrorism.We discussed foreign interference, the cyber challenges that we face. We alsodiscussed many great opportunities for greater trade and investment. Our twocountries are already strong trading partners. The United States is one of ourmost important, if not our most important economic partner, given the level ofinvestment that the United States makes in Australia as well as our tradingrelationship.

We enjoyedvery much working with you. We're looking forward to a deep engagement over thenext 12 months as we lead into AUSMIN 2019, when we will host you in Australia.Thank you.

JIM MATTIS: Well, thank you, ladies and gentlemen, forbeing here with us this morning. I was honoured to join Minister Bishop,Minister Payne, Secretary Pompeo as we concluded our 28th Australia-UnitedStates Ministerial talks. And the talks were an excellent opportunity tobolster our relationship – in my case the security relationship – and toreaffirm our steadfast alliance and close collaboration.

In thesepast 12 months, we have strengthened our defence cooperation in many tangibleways, finalising our respective national security and defence strategies toaddress shared threats and increasing our coordination of joint capabilitiesdevelopment. We've enhanced our interoperability and our cooperation in theregion through Exercise RIMPAC and numerous other exercises, and that'scontinuing our 100-year tradition of teamwork, or mateship as our friends fromDown Under call it.

MinisterPayne and I signed a cyber memorandum of understanding to enable our countriesto perform research and development and together advance our combined cybercapabilities. And our Marine Rotational Force in Darwin will reach thepreviously agreed-upon number of 2,500 on a timeline determined by our hostnation partner, Australia. These actions, to borrow a phrase from MinisterPayne, demonstrate that the United States and Australia will walk the walk inthe Indo-Pacific.

We share thesame strategic goal: to ensure a free, open, inclusive, and prosperousIndo-Pacific, where nations large and small are respected and accorded theprotection of international law. The joint work plan we put forth today willhelp bring this goal to fruition with concrete steps to enhance US-Australiacooperation across our governments by further integrating our combined militaryoperations and committing to step up US-Australian coordination and engagementacross the region, including the noted Pacific Islands.

RegardingNorth Korea, we will keep the pressure on the regime's denuclearisation throughthe enforcement of the UN Security Council's international sanctions imposedwith the Security Council's unanimous backing to prevent ship-to-ship transfersof energy supplies. We have also partnered on defence innovation. There we willexplore all opportunities for deeper defence industry collaboration now thatAustralia is included in the US National Technology and Industrial Base.

Overall, ourdiscussions furthered cooperation on these and more issues, strengthening ourresponse to various security challenges. Ministers Bishop and Payne, thank youfor your candor throughout our discussions – an openness only possible betweenloyal and trusted allies. And Australia has been an unwavering friend standingwith us through thick and thin, and it was demonstrated by being the first allyon the ground beside us in Afghanistan following the 9/11 attack on America, anattack that cost 11 Australian citizens their lives during the hit on New YorkCity. And we do not forget the families of your soldiers, fellow Ministers. Wedon't forget the families of your soldiers who have fallen alongside us. I'mconfident our enduring and unflappable mateship will continue to grow andflourish for another 100 years.

Thank you.Minister Payne.

MARISE PAYNE: Thank you very much, Jim. To Secretary Mattis and SecretaryPompeo, thank you very much for hosting us here for AUSMIN 2018. I also want tothank our teams, who've worked enormously hard to put this together. Thesethings don't happen out of the clear blue sky, so the effort that has gone intothat we very much appreciate. Fair to say we all feel very secure as well, sothank you very much for that support.

I want toacknowledge both my friend Ambassador Joe Hockey and my friend chargé JamesCarouso for their support for AUSMIN 2018 as well.

This is mythird AUSMIN and it's particularly good to be here in Palo Alto. Jim, I cancertainly understand why you loved it here so much, or why you do love it hereso much, in fact. But importantly for us and part of our discussion today, it'salso a region that is synonymous with innovation, with collaboration, with USingenuity and leadership.

There's beena lot said in recent times about the history of the Australia-US defencerelationship – 100 years of mateship – of the shared history and the sharedsacrifice. But it's also the ability of our two nations to innovate, and forthe relationship to evolve that underpins its success.

Whetherindeed it was Monash's groundbreaking tactics a hundred years ago at the Battleof Hamel when he led United States troops for the first time, or the jointdevelopment programs that we're undertaking today across so many fields – thePoseidon P-8, the Triton, the Growler, just as examples – we continue toinnovate and to collaborate to ensure that our alliance is relevant to and,most particularly, ready for today's challenges.

Nowhere, infact, as Secretary Mattis has mentioned, is the need for innovation morecritical than in cyber, which continues to be a pervasive threat to ourmilitaries and to our businesses.

So we havesigned an MOU today to deepen cybersecurity cooperation so that we're able tojointly develop the tools and the software that we need to both protect anddefend against cyber threats.

And just asthe challenges continue to evolve, so does the Australia-US alliance. We,however, remain absolutely committed to working with the US to ensure that thatalliance remains strong and responsive to emerging threats, especially in ourregion.

Together, asSecretary Mattis has said, we continue to work side by side around the world,as we've done for the past hundred years, to pursue our shared values and thoseinterests that we hold so dear.

Indeed, aswe speak, more than 1,600 Australian defence personnel are participating in theworld's largest international naval exercise, the US-led Rim of the Pacific, orRIMPAC.

We've allbenefitted from the region's stability for decades. It's been underpinned bythe rules-based global order. And both Australia and the United States arecommitted to working with our allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacificto ensure that the region remains open and inclusive and prosperous. And weagreed this week that we will further our cooperation to promote the security,the stability, and the resilience of our Pacific Island neighbors as well.

Whether it'sthrough exercises with our allies and partners, or building a regional capacityto respond toward our shared challenges of counterterrorism, of humanitariandisasters, or maritime security. There is much that Australia and the US do dotogether and can do together to strengthen the security of this region.

In relationto North Korea, we are very clear that we're committed to strengtheningcooperation to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation of the DPRK,and of keeping a focus on sanctions enforcement as well. We also discussed thepotential repatriation of personnel missing in action from the Korean Warfollowing the historic Singapore summit. Australia has 43 personnel missing inaction in the Demilitarised Zone and in North Korea. Their unknown fatecontinues to be a source of pain and mystery to their families. We've provideddental records and DNA information from Australia to assist in theidentification of any remains that may be provided to the United States. Thisremains a challenging process, but a very, very important one. I'm sure thereare still hurdles to come in that process, but I do want to thank the UnitedStates particularly for their assistance.

Not thatwe're necessarily into quoting each other back and forth, but the Secretary didsay in our bilateral yesterday that this is a relationship that is never takenfor granted. And it is a sentiment very deeply held by both sides. Let me againthank both Secretary Pompeo and Secretary Mattis for hosting us here today, andas Minister Bishop said, we look forward to seeing you in Australia for AUSMIN2019.

Thanks,ladies and gentlemen.

MODERATOR: Now for those questions, I believe we'llstart with Fox News. Claudia Cowan.

JOURNALIST: Thank you very much. Thank you for yourcomments this morning. I have a question for Secretary Pompeo and a follow-upwith Secretary Mattis, if I may. Secretary Pompeo, I know you're testifying onCapitol Hill tomorrow about the Helsinki summit. What is your understanding ofthe agreements that were made between President Trump and President Putinthere? Have you met with the President to discuss those agreements, and haveyou seen any change in behaviour by the Russians that warrant a second summitinvitation in Washington? Do you think that's a good idea? And then SecretaryMattis, sir, have you been asked to prepare options for working with theRussians in Syria, and do you have any concerns about doing so? Thank you.

MIKE POMPEO: Thanks for your question about the US-Australia relationship, Iappreciate that. Yes, look, I've spoken with the President about the meetingthat he held with President Putin, and I was part of a larger discussion aswell. I've spoken to Secretary – to Foreign Minister Lavrov following that. Andthe President's been clear about some of the things that were agreed to. We'regoing to begin to put together a business council, there'll be places we'llstart track-two processes – there were many things that came from what I viewas an incredibly important meeting between President Trump and President Putin,one that I'm – I think the world will have benefited from when history iswritten.

I am lookingforward to testifying tomorrow. We'll testify about a lot of things, includingthe relationship between the United States and Russia. But I think – I thinkone of the things that gets lost is the determination that this administrationhas had in pushing back against Russian malign behaviour around the world. Itis unequaled in the history of the United States in terms of when there was apost-Cold War conflict between the United States and Russia, how firm thisadministration has been in pushing back against those threats. And I lookforward to testifying about that tomorrow as well. Jim?

JIM MATTIS: Yeah, in regard to Syria, what we do with theRussian Federation is we deconflict our operations. We do not coordinate them;we deconflict them in time and in space to make certain along the deconflictionlines we are not creating hazardous conditions. But we will not – we will notbe doing anything additional until the Secretary of State and the Presidenthave further figured out at what point we are going to start working alongsideour allies with Russia in the future. That has not happened yet and it would bepremature for me to go into any more detail at this point, because we're notdoing any more than this.

MODERATOR: The next question goes to Cameron Stewartfrom The Australian.

JOURNALIST: Thank you. Secretary Pompeo, Minister Bishophas recently expressed concern about China's creeping strategic and economicinfluence in the South Pacific. I wonder what you think about this and how theUS intends to respond to this. Are you concerned by this? And Secretary Mattis,a US congressman, Joe Courtney, recently said he'd like to see Australiaconduct a unilateral freedom of navigation operation in the South China Seawithin 12 nautical miles. While respecting that that is Australia's decision,would you, as defence secretary, like to see Australia do such a thing? Andfinally, to Minister Bishop, the Australia-US alliance is very strong today,but Donald Trump has proved to be a transactional president when it comes tosome close allies. Are you confident that the alliance could withstand anybuffeting from an unpredictable president?

MIKE POMPEO: Well, I feel compelled to answer your third one too, but I'll – I'mconfident Foreign Minister Bishop can handle that. Let me speak to – we spent alot of time over the course of the last two days talking about how to maintaina free and open Indo-Pacific. That threat emanates from lots of places;certainly China poses concerns there. And we talked about all the variouselements of power – economic, diplomatic. You talked about freedom ofnavigation, I'll let Secretaries Mattis and – Secretary Bishop speak to that alittle more directly.

But I don'tthink anyone should underestimate the United States continued commitment tothis. It – we do it in different ways. We're a democratic society, so our poweris projected in ways that are unique and different from the way that countriesthat aren't so free and democratic project their power. And I think the South Pacific,like most places in the world, understand the enormity of having an Americanally, the enormity of having a country that consistently, over decades,projects the democratic values, the human dignity that comes with having anAmerican partner is different from having partners that aren't quite that way.And I think over time that will ultimately prevail, not only in the SouthPacific, but all across the world. I think the capacity of America as a partnerto inspire, and to create a place where we value our partners in a way that iscontinuous and noble is unique in history, and one that I think the world fullyappreciates. Jim?

JIM MATTIS: Well, we're totally aligned, Australia andthe United States, with what we want as an end state in the Pacific, and thatis of course the free and the open Indo-Pacific, where nations large and smallare treated with respect for their territorial integrity, for theirsovereignty, their sovereign decisions. And I think that as we look at theSouth China Sea, our concern is that features that have never been militarisedbefore have been militarised by the PRC. We've been very – over severaladministrations - we've been very clear we disagree with that. But as far asfreedom of navigation decisions by Australia, that's a sovereign decision by asovereign state. And we coordinate, collaborate across the realm in terms ofour military exercises, our military operations. And right now, we'll justleave that decision with the people of Australia, which is exactly where it belongs.

JULIE BISHOP: The relationship between the United Statesand Australia is longstanding, deep, enduring, and at this meeting we committedanew to working together in the furtherance of our alliance and our objectives.We are committed to an open, prosperous, inclusive Indo-Pacific. We'recommitted to the rule of law and the international rules-based order that hasunderpinned stability and prosperity, relatively speaking, since the UnitedStates instigated that rules-based order over 70 years ago and continues to bethe defender and guarantor.

We havealready established a very close working relationship with the Trump Administrationright from the outset. And as we've often said, the relationship is so deep andso enduring that changes in the White House and changes in the Lodge inCanberra don't dent the strength of that relationship. We have a very open andfrank dialogue with the United States, with our counterparts, but alsoPresident Trump and Prime Minister Turnbull have established a very closeworking relationship. We don't always agree with the United States and theUnited States doesn't always agree with us, but we are able to work through anydifferences in a very constructive and positive way, and we'll continue to dothat.

I want totake this opportunity to thank the United States for the commitment to workingwith us in relation to MH17 and holding Russia to account over its role in thedowning of that Malaysian airline that killed 298 people, including 38Australian citizens and residents. And that's just an example of how we rely onthe United States and how we are grateful for the support that they give us inrelation to a matter that is very dear and personal to the hearts of allAustralians.

So from myperspective – and this is my fifth AUSMIN – from my perspective, therelationship is as deep and strong as it's ever been, and I'm certainly lookingforward to working with Secretaries Pompeo and Mattis as we work through thefact sheet that I believe has been handed out that just gives you an indicationof the breadth and depth and the diversity of the areas where we collaborateand cooperate and will continue to do so.

MODERATOR: Next question goes to Alexandria Sage withReuters.

JOURNALIST: Thank you, good morning. A few questions formultiple parties here. For Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Bishop, thereare reports that North Korea has already begun to dismantle its facilities atits Sohae test site. Could you confirm that, and what moves – further moveswould you like to see and how soon?

Then forSecretary Mattis, if I may, the President's tweet on Iran suggested a possiblemilitary strike. Where do you see the red line that Iran would have to crossfor the US to engage in military force, and are you concerned about somemiscalculation between US and Iranian forces in the region based on thisescalating rhetoric?

Finally, ifI may, Foreign Minister Bishop, could you please update us as to how recentlyyou may have been in touch with authorities in Myanmar for the release of ourReuters colleagues who have been tortured under custody? Thank you.

MIKE POMPEO: So let me take the first one first, and then I'll turn it over toSecretary Mattis. So we've seen the open press reporting about the missileengine test site. It'd be entirely consistent with the commitment that ChairmanKim made to President Trump when the two of them were in Singapore together. Hemade that commitment to them orally. We've been pressing for there to be inspectorson the ground when that engine test facility is dismantled consistent withChairman Kim's commitment, and I'll leave it at that for this morning.

The secondpart of your question was what further steps would you like to take. That'seasy. They need to completely, fully denuclearise. That's the steps thatChairman Kim committed to and that the world has demanded through UN SecurityCouncil resolutions. It's that straightforward.

JIM MATTIS: Yeah, on Iran, I think that what we have tolook at is the destabilising influence that Iran has consistently portrayed anddemonstrated throughout the region. And the only reason that the murderer Assadis still in power – the primary reason – is because Iran has stuck by him,reinforced him, funded him. We see the same kind of malfeasance down in Yemen,where they're fomenting more violence down there. We've seen their disruptivecapabilities demonstrated from Bahrain to the kingdom. And it's time for Iranto shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation. It cannot continueto show irresponsibility as some revolutionary organisation that is intent onexporting terrorism, exporting disruption across the region. So I think thePresident was making very clear that they're on the wrong track.

JULIE BISHOP: In relation to North Korea, Australia standsfirmly with the United States and the international community in holding NorthKorea to abide by the numerous UN Security Council resolutions that banned itsnuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, and we will offer whateversupport we can in the process of verifying the complete dismantling of thoseprograms. In the meantime, we will continue to enforce the sanctions and assistin the enforcement regime to ensure that North Korea is held to the promises it'smade to the President and to the United States about denuclearisation. We'reall seeking stability and security on the Korean Peninsula, and the full andverifiable denuclearisation of North Korea is fundamental to that.

In relationto the two Reuters journalists that have been detained in Myanmar, ourofficials have attended every one of the hearings that have taken place. We areaware that the judge has now committed the two journalists to trial. We are incontact with the journalists' lawyers and we will continue to makerepresentations through our Embassy in Myanmar to the government. Of course,there is a judicial process, a legal process, underway, but we are maintaininga very close eye on this particular case because it does go to the whole questionof the freedom of the press in Myanmar and the integrity of its legal system.But we are working very closely with other likeminded countries on this and wewill continue to be present, through our representatives, at each of the courthearings, and we'll also continue to make representations through our contactswith the Myanmar Government.

MODERATOR: Last question is to Ashlee Mullany withChannel 7.

JOURNALIST: Secretary Pompeo, I have a question todayfrom Anthony Maslin and Marite Norris of Perth, Western Australia. Their youngchildren, Mo, Evie, and Otis, were murdered on flight MH17, along with theirgrandfather and 294 other innocent people. This is a question on their behalfin their words: That the plane was hit by a Russian missile has been proven tobe an irrefutable fact. That this killed our three beautiful children and theirgrandfather and destroyed our life and many other lives has been proven to be –is, rather, an irrefutable fact. Secretary Pompeo, will the United States, our friendand ally, help Australia hold Russia to account, and how?

MIKE POMPEO: Well, I appreciate the question from you – from them. It's – mycondolences to their family. It's indeed a tragedy. The United States hasalready been a great partner for the Netherlands and for Australia in trying toidentify who shot down this plane. We need the Russians to continue to be heldaccountable for that. We take this matter seriously and we committed over theselast two days, as we have for the last months, to continue to support everyeffort through the Joint Investigative Team to hold the perpetrators for thisheinous activity accountable. You have America's support in that and willcontinue to do so.

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