Clinton Says Australia Is Gateway to Vibrant Trade, Energy Routes

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the University of Western Australia November 13 in Perth, Australia.

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
November 13,  2012

Australia is at a strategic juncture linking two great oceans — the Pacific and the Indian — that provide a gateway to the vibrant trade and energy routes that flow to the entire world, says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.“It is no surprise that foreign investment is soaring, including more than $100 billion from the United States, because, increasingly, these waters are at the heart of the global economy and a key focus of America’s expanding engagement in the region, what we sometimes call our pivot to Asia,” Clinton told a forum November 13 at the launch of the Perth USAsia Centre at the University of Western Australia.

Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, are in Perth to attend the annual Australia–United States Ministerial meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith. While in Perth, Clinton also will meet with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Saying that the United States has never actually left the Asia-Pacific region, Clinton told the university forum that the United States remains a Pacific power and is “here to stay.” How the United States thinks about the Asia-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific regions is going to be crucial to the future of Australia and the United States, she added.

The United States had made it a strategic priority to support India’s Look East policy and to encourage New Delhi to play a larger role in Asian institutions and affairs, Clinton said. Clinton also said that the United States welcomes joint Australian-Indian naval exercises in the future and is eager to work together with the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, which Australia will chair in 2013. The United States has joined as a dialogue partner.

At the Australia–United States Ministerial meeting, the two nations will review implementation of the military agreements that Gillard and President Obama reached a year ago. Those agreements included a regular rotational deployment of U.S. Marines in Darwin and work toward improving the interoperability of the two navies, Clinton said.

“These steps will help both countries safeguard commerce and respond to natural disasters in the sea lanes connecting to Indian and Pacific Oceans,” she added.

Clinton told the university forum that the opening of the Perth USAsia Centre gives added impetus to exploring how the United States and Australia can broaden and deepen commercial, cultural and personal relationships.

The United States also supports and encourages the peaceful rise of China and supports China’s efforts to become a responsible stakeholder in the international community, Clinton told the forum. She added that the United States hopes “to see gradual but consistent opening up of a Chinese society and political system that will more closely give the Chinese people the opportunities that we in the United States and Australia are lucky to take for granted.”

Clinton said the United States also enjoys strong relationships with Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, and growing relations with Indonesia.

Clinton will next go to Adelaide, Australia, where she will meet with Australian business leaders as well as visit Techport Australia, Australia’s largest and most advanced shipbuilding facility.

 

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