Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting press conference

  • Transcript, E&OE
Subjects: Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting outcomes; Ukraine; Myanmar; relationship with ASEAN.

Marise Payne:

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us here in Melbourne this evening.  Let me start by thanking my friends and counterparts, India's External Affairs Minister Jaishankar, Japan's Foreign Minister Hayashi and US Secretary of State Blinken, after what has been a very substantive and productive Quad Ministers’ meeting here in Melbourne. Our fourth. 

Let me start also by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we are meeting this evening, the Wurundjeri people and pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. 

Today the Quad Foreign Ministers have reaffirmed our support for the principles of openness, the protection of national sovereignty and the observance of rules and fair play. Our region is in a period of rising strategic uncertainty. The rules and norms that have provided a foundation for our stability, and hence our prosperity, are under pressure, in particular from authoritarian regimes. 

The Quad is a grouping with a positive and ambitious agenda. We continue to support the centrality of ASEAN, including to advance practical implementation of ASEAN's outlook on the Indo‑Pacific. The Quad has made practical commitments and we're delivering on them. 

We have delivered over 500 million vaccine doses under the Quad leaders’ commitment and ensured they reached the people who need them. Australia will bolster the efforts of the Quad vaccine partnership by making a further investment through our regional health security initiative for the Indo‑Pacific. Australia in our actions works to support a world order that favours freedom; where rules, not power and coercion, resolve disputes. 

Today in Melbourne our overarching focus was on the Indo‑Pacific. We agreed to strengthen Quad cyber and counter‑terrorism cooperation, including by coordinating efforts to address the threat of ransomware. 

We discussed humanitarian and disaster response and vital infrastructure delivery which is climate adapted and climate resilient in consultation with our partners. 

We agreed to boost maritime security support for Indo‑Pacific partners to strengthen their maritime domain awareness and ability to develop their offshore resources, to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight and to combat challenges such as illegal fishing. 

I am delighted that Japan has offered to host the next Quad leaders’ summit in the first half of 2022. 

To finish my remarks, and I'll ask my colleagues to indulge me just for a moment. Many of you will know that today was the holding of the State memorial service for the passing of a former Australian Foreign Minister and leader of my Parliamentary Liberal Party Andrew Peacock. 

I think if Andrew Peacock was here now and able to see a Quad Foreign Ministers meeting being held in person in Melbourne after two years of a global pandemic, and only two years after the first in‑person meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers, he'd be immensely proud of Australia and our Quad partners for what we have worked to deliver, for the practical cooperation that we've engaged in and for our strong focus on our friends and partners in ASEAN.

It gives me great pleasure to ask Minister Jaishankar to make some remarks. 

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar:

Thank you Marise. Foreign Minister Payne, let me first of all of thank you for hosting what was truly a productive meeting of the Quad Foreign Ministers. We also had an opportunity earlier in the day to meet collectively with Prime Minister Scott Morrison for what was a very insightful, very useful discussion before our own deliberations. 

The interactions that we've had has made it evident that robust bilateral relations between our respective countries, our strategic convergences and our shared democratic values have all combined to make the Quad a vibrant and substantial framework. 

We are building an agenda which seeks to further our shared vision of a free, open and inclusive Indo‑Pacific. We are keen to work together to further peace and stability and economic prosperity in the Indo‑Pacific through collective efforts which address contemporary issues. 

In this context we will continue to support our ASEAN partners in their efforts to uphold peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Their centrality is important to recognise and reiterate. 

We reviewed the Quad's ongoing efforts to combat the COVID pandemic and agreed to expedite delivery of safe and affordable vaccines, support capacity building and augment infrastructure for last mile delivery. 

Quad's discussions and efforts to build resilient supply chains, enhance availability of trusted critical technologies, counter disinformation and uphold a rules‑based multilateral trading system will contribute to fostering global economic resilience. 

I welcome the Quad's shared desire to address common global threats, such as terrorism, strengthen maritime domain awareness, provide timely HADR assistance and assist countries in the Indo‑Pacific in the area of cyber security. 

Taking forward the Quad's positive agenda which our leaders endorsed last year, we will take steps to strengthen our existing people‑to‑people linkages through education programs and think tank dialogues.

As we conclude this very timely and valuable interaction, we will work together to give shape and substance to the Quad's positive agenda to make it, in the words of my Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a force for global good. 

Once again, I thank the Government of Australia and in particular my friend Marise Payne for the warmth, hospitality and excellent arrangements for our visit and meetings. 

Marise Payne:

Thank you very much, Minister. Let me ask Minister Hayashi to make some remarks please. 

Yoshimasa Hayashi:

(Japanese spoken.)

Marise Payne:

Thank you very much Minister Hayashi. Secretary of State. 

Antony Blinken:

Marise, thank you so much. Thank you for the incredible hospitality, thank you for bringing us here to Australia and for bringing us here to this wonderful city of Melbourne. It's been truly a delight to be able to spend a little bit of time in the city as well as in our meetings. 

To you, Marise, Jai, to you and to Yogi, friends, colleagues, I'm so grateful for the extremely productive discussions that we've had today. 

In fact we were speaking a few moments ago and the incredible range of things that we covered. We could have spent the entire time on any one of them, but I think it goes to the richness of what we have before us as democracies united in advancing a very affirmative vision for the future. 

Back in December I was in Jakarta and I set out the United States' vision for a free and open Indo‑Pacific, which more than any other region will shape the trajectory of the 21st century. We talk about a free and open Indo‑Pacific a lot. It's worth spending just a second on what that actually means to us, and it's a shared meaning. 

It means people will be free in their daily lives and live in open societies. It means the countries will be able to choose their own path and their own partners. It means that goods, ideas, individuals will flow freely in the region. And that problems will be dealt with openly according to the rules of the road that everyone has agreed to. 

We believe the only way to make that vision a reality is to deepen our engagement with allies and partners who share it, and that's exactly what the Quad is all about. 

As Indo‑Pacific countries, as democracies, as nations who understand how important it is to uphold the international rules that have provided the foundation for decades of shared security and prosperity it's in our interest to do more together. 

Returning to the region now, even as we continue to work relentlessly to try to resolve the crisis in Ukraine brought about by Russian aggression, and to do that through diplomacy and deterrence, but being here now, even in the midst of that, I think only underscores our commitment to staying focused on the Indo‑Pacific. 

Indeed, these efforts are part of one whole. One of the reasons we're working so intensely to defend the core principles threatened by Russia's aggression toward Ukraine is because those very same principles are crucial to enduring stability in this region and every other part of the world. 

This also underscores our commitment to not only meeting the pledges that the Quad has made, but also finding new ways to leverage our unique and combined strengths and let me just quickly highlight a few that we discussed today. 

We will keep working to produce a billion doses of safe, effective COVID‑19 vaccines by the end of this year, and to donate 1.2 billion additional doses while increasing our efforts to support the logistics, the infrastructure that's needed to get those shots in the arms around the world, the last mile. 

Each of the Quad countries will play a key role in a meeting that we're convening on Monday on a COVID‑19 global action plan which will drive greater leadership and coordination across regions and sectors to end the pandemic. 

We'll enhance our collaboration on disaster response and humanitarian assistance as you've heard. We're doing that right now in the case of the Tonga volcano eruption.

We'll strengthen our cooperation on maritime security, both to combat challenges like illegal, unregulated, unreported fishing and to ensure freedom of navigation and overflight across the region, including in the South and East China Seas. 

We've agreed to deepen our efforts to shape the rules and standards around emerging technologies, cyber security, which will increasingly touch on all aspects of the lives of your fellow citizens. 

We'll expand our cooperation with other partners, like ASEAN, whose centrality of the region is enduring. APEC, which the United States will host next year, and in the Pacific Islands. 

The Quad has been and always will be an affirmative partnership, rooted not in opposition to any country or group of countries, but rather in the belief that together we can do more to deliver broad‑based progress for people in other countries, in our countries across the Indo‑Pacific. 

Addressing the challenges that real people face in their lives. Helping them seize the opportunities that they want. Empowering them to chart their own course. 

Our efforts today show that the stronger the Quad gets the more we'll be able to deliver on that promise. 

Thank you. 

Marise Payne:

Thank you very much, Tony, and Jai and Yogi for those remarks. 

I have four questions to take from the assembled members of the media and the first name I have on the list is Pablo Vinales from SBS. I can't see you though. There you are. 

Pablo Vinales:

Thank you, Minister, Pablo Vinales, SBS World News. 

Minister Payne, on the crisis in the Ukraine are you able to elaborate what came of discussions today? And to Mr Secretary, you've been quoted as saying that you expect Australia to contribute imposing massive costs on Moscow should Russia invade. What would that look like? Do you foresee Magnitsky style sanctions as part of that? 

Marise Payne:

Thanks, Pablo. Consistent with the statements the Australian Government and I have made previously, I've reiterated our very deep concerns about the Russian military build-up on Ukraine's border, and again reiterated on calls that we have made to Russia to participate constructively in diplomatic efforts, many of which are being strongly led by Secretary Blinken and the President of the United States. 

I've also reiterated Australia's strong support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and that we will continue to support our allies and partners to deter this sort of aggression and to raise the costs of this kind of behaviour. Tony. 

Antony Blinken:

Thank you Marise. Two things. We have been pursuing a dual track approach to the challenge posed by Russia and the forces that it's massed unprovoked along Ukraine's borders. Diplomacy and dialogue. We would strongly prefer to resolve the differences that we have through diplomacy, through dialogue. That is the responsible way to do things.  We've made every possible effort to engage Russia, to look at the concerns that it's raised, to share concerns that we have, that European partners and allies have, to see if we can't find ways to advance collective security on a reciprocal basis. 

But at the same time, we've been very clear in building deterrence and building defence and making it clear to Russia that if it chooses the path of renewed aggression, it will face massive consequences. 

A number of countries have made this clear as well. All of the G7 countries came together, the world's leading democratic economies, to make clear that massive consequences would follow from renewed aggression. So did the European Union, so did NATO. 

And working with allies and partners not only in Europe but around the world, including Australia, we have been putting together exactly what those consequences would entail, including economic, financial sanctions, export controls.  

We're as well committed to continuing to build up the defensive capacity of Ukraine as well as reinforcing the defences of NATO if Russia renews its aggression. 

But let me just take one second to share why what may seem to be half a world away from here matters here in Australia, in the Indo‑Pacific. 

As I mentioned a few minutes ago, what's at stake is not simply, as important as it is, Ukraine's territorial integrity, its sovereignty and independence, but very basic principles that have in a hard-fought way after two World Wars and a Cold War undergirded security, peace and prosperity for countries around the world. 

Principles like, one country can't simply change the borders of another by force. Principles like, one country can't simply dictate to another its choices, its policies, with whom it will associate. 

Principles like, one country can't exert a sphere of influence to subjugate its neighbours to its will.

If we allow those principles to be challenged with impunity, even if it's half the world away in Europe, that will have an impact here as well. Others are watching. Others are looking to all of us to see how we respond. 

So that's why it's so important that we have this solidarity, that we do everything possible through diplomacy to try to avert a conflict and prevent aggression, but equally to be resolute if Russia renews its aggression. 

Marise Payne:

Thanks Tony. The next question is from Stephen Dziedzic from the ABC. 

Stephen Dziedzic:

Thank you, Minister. Can I ask, on Myanmar what discussions were had by you on the crisis in Myanmar? And can I ask you please, Secretary, the United States has obviously imposed fresh sanctions on Myanmar, that is not something that's been done by your other Quad partners. Does the United States believe that other countries in the region, including your Quad partners, should at least contemplate the step of concerted sanctions on Myanmar to increase pressure on the junta? Thank you. 

Antony Blinken:

I'm happy to start. We did discuss Myanmar today. Look, I think it is painfully obvious that the developments there are deeply, deeply troubling and deeply troubling to all of us.  We've seen the junta double down on repression, on violence. 

We just had the one-year anniversary of the coup and the junta taking over. I met with some democracy activists just a week ago by video in Washington and heard again first‑hand what's happening inside of Myanmar. 

We very much support the ASEAN Five‑Point Consensus. We need to see it implemented.  This is something President Biden is going to focus on in the near future when he hosts the ASEAN leaders in Washington. 

From my perspective, the perspective of the United States, implementing the Five‑Point Consensus, making sure humanitarian assistance can get in, making sure that arms stay out, and engaging the democratic forces in Burma are the things that we need to pursue together. 

I don't purport to speak for my colleagues, but I can tell you we had a robust discussion, and the concern is widely shared. 

Marise Payne:

Thanks Tony, and I think you've covered off well on the outline of our discussion. 

I would add that I have also once again acknowledged the continuing detention of Professor Sean Turnell in Myanmar, that Australia, of which we have also just unfortunately marked the first anniversary on the 6th of February, that Australia considers this to be a case of arbitrary detention. 

I have acknowledged and thanked our counterparts, all of counterparts here, for their role in continuing to advocate with the regime for the release of Professor Turnell as Australia does constantly, consistently not just in Myanmar itself but globally.


Subrahmanyam Jaishankar:

Well, I think we are all agreed on the importance of the democratic transition which was under way in Myanmar and clearly the fact that the country has moved in a different direction is something which troubles all of us. 

We all I think also very strongly back the ASEAN position on Myanmar and their efforts to engage. But we are concerned, India is concerned as an immediate land border neighbour, we have some very specific concerns in Myanmar which also guides our thinking, concerns about insurgents operating there who some months ago, you know, killed a very senior military officer and his family, concerns about the COVID and the lack of vaccination on our common border, concerns about a humanitarian situation which is arising from food shortages. 

So I think those are also concerns which we take into account and where we're concerned, we don't follow a policy of national sanctions. 

Yoshimasa Hayashi:

(Japanese spoken.)

Marise Payne:

Thank you very much, Yogi. The next question is from Kyoto News. 


(Japanese spoken.) 

Yoshimasa Hayashi:

(Japanese spoken.)

Marise Payne:

Thank you, Yogi. The final question this evening is from Jennifer Hansler at CNN. 


Thank you. Mr Secretary, today the State Department issued a new security alert for Ukraine calling on American citizens to leave now. What changed that made you issue this new security alert? If it's so dangerous, why don't we see more Europeans also issuing the same kind of alert; and are you planning to put the US Embassy in Kyiv on order of departure, and if so, when? And then for all of the Foreign Ministers, Russia and China recently released a lengthy pact pledging no limits to their cooperation. How concerned are you about this pact? Is there consensus on this concern from the Quad? And did you discuss specific plans to counter this partnership? Thank you. 

Antony Blinken:

Simply put, we continue to see very troubling signs of Russian escalation, including new forces arriving at the Ukrainian border. 

As we said before, we're in a window when an invasion could begin at any time, and to be clear that includes during the Olympics. 

We're continuing to drawdown our Embassy. We will continue that process. And we also have been very clear that any American citizens who remain in Ukraine should leave now. 

Marise Payne:

Thanks Tony. Perhaps if I start. What we have been doing in the Quad context since our first in‑person Foreign Ministers meeting in September of 2019, through the leaders’ summits of 2021, both virtual and in‑person, and again with this meeting is working together as partners in pursuit of a regional and global order that is based on the Rule of Law. 

The Quad is not about what we're against. It's about what we're able to do. It's about constructive partnerships and what we are for, and we are for freedom and openness and transparency, freedom from coercion and the opportunity for states to preserve and protect their sovereignty and their territorial integrity. 

Where we see the sort of statement that was issued by the Presidents after their bilateral meeting, it is concerning because it doesn't present or represent a global order that squares with those ambitions for freedom and openness and sovereignty and the protection of territorial integrity. 

So we'll continue to ensure that our contributions are about stabilising the rules-based order, are about contributing to security and stability and prosperity and that is one of the great values of the discussions that we have had today on every single subject that we have canvassed. 


Subrahmanyam Jaishankar:

I just add that as my colleagues have observed we are for something, not against somebody. And a lot of our discussions took off from where the leaders’ summit left off. They identified a number of areas where if the four of us cooperate, cooperate practically and efficiently I think the world would be a much better place. 

Yoshimasa Hayashi:

(Japanese spoken.)

Marise Payne:

Thank you. Thank you very much, Yogi. 

Can I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, I know this has been a media conference late in the day, but I do very much appreciate your attendance and your contribution here this afternoon, this evening. 

May I once again thank my colleagues for such a productive and collaborative meeting, thank you.


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