Future operational enhancement with U.S. depended on force posture review: Australian DM

16:23, November 08, 2010      

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Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith said Monday that the government will decide to strengthen or not the operational arrangements with the United States when force posture review is delivered.

After the annual AUSMIN (Australia-United States Ministerial) meeting where Australian and U.S. representatives met to discuss security and diplomacy issues, the defense minister said that Australia welcomed the ongoing operational arrangements with the United States, either through joint facilities or visits to Australian facilities.

But he said: "As for any future enhancement of that, we will make that judgment once the force posture review has itself been delivered."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier has made it clear the United States is keen to play a greater role in the Asia- Pacific region.

The AUSMIN meetings, attended by Australian foreign and defense ministers, and the U.S. secretaries of state and defense, took place on Monday at Government House of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia.

Stephen Smith said Australia welcomes very much the United States enhanced engagement in the Asia-Pacific, however, the U.S. Force Posture Review were yet to be concluded in the AUSMIN meeting.

"We will continue to be in consultation with the U.S. in the course of that force posture review, and in due course see what implications if any arise for Australia," Smith told reporters.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the meeting had decided to set up a group to look at better ways of working together, as part of the U.S. global posture review.

Meanwhile, Clinton announced the U.S. Congress had passed the Australia-U.S. defense trade co-operation treaty, designed to facilitate export of U.S. defense equipment to Australia.

Australia is the second nation after the United Kingdom to have the chance to sign this treaty with United States, and Smith said the defense trade treaty legislation was likely to be introduced to parliament early next year.

Australia is the final leg of Clinton's 10-day Asia-Pacific tour, which has taken her to Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. She will fly out of Australia on late Monday afternoon.

Source: Xinhua


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