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Transcript of press conference: Bali, Indonesia: 7 November 2012: US election; Bali Democracy Forum

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Subjects: US election; Bali Democracy Forum

PM: I would like to offer President Obama my warmest congratulations on his re-election. President Obama is a great friend of Australia and I have had the opportunity to work closely with him.

I am looking forward to continuing to work closely with President Obama. Australia and America are the oldest of allies and the firmest of friends. We share values and we have a history of shared sacrifice and we’ve got so much to do together in these years.

First and foremost, we have to see our mission through in Afghanistan and continue to make our contribution to peace and security in our world. We’ve got to work together on the global economy, strengthening jobs and growth, including through the work we do at the G20.

We’ve got work to do together on liberalising trade and investment, including the work we do through APEC and the work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We’ve got work to do together in the context of the East Asia Summit, which will be held very shortly and which is an important meeting in our region which President Obama will attend.

And of course, we will be working together on the UN Security Council dealing on the UN Security Council with global challenges. So I do most sincerely and most warmly welcome the re-election of President Obama and I look forward to continuing to work with him as Australian Prime Minister on our shared agenda.

I am happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister did you ever have any doubt that Obama would be re-elected?

PM: I am not an election forecaster, this decision was always in the hands of the American people.

JOURNALIST: What do you think this means now for America for the next four years?

PM: I think President Obama has outlined his policies and plans for the next four years. Domestically he’s had made it clear that he will be very focused on the American economy, on ensuring that it creates jobs. He will be very focused on education, on making sure every kid gets a great start in life. We’ve got a shared passion for education and he has mentioned challenges like tackling climate change and of course this is a global challenge and a challenge for both of our nations.

JOURNALIST: Did you get any inspiration from someone who has won an election with his back against the wall?

PM: My inspiration is in the work that I do in Australia for the Australian people. Every election is different every nation is different, so we will decide the Australian election in 2013 on our own terms.

JOURNALIST: What do you expect to get out of the Bali Democracy Forum, it’s the fifth year and it hasn’t delivered anything major so far, do expect there can be anything big out of tomorrow?

PM: I am here at President Yudhoyono’s invitation. President Yudhoyono asked me to co-chair a section of the Bali Democracy Forum with him. The Bali Democracy Forum is his initiative, it’s not a meeting of democracies, it’s a meeting about democracy. And President Yudhoyono takes very seriously his role as someone who leads a nation that has become a thriving democracy to talk about the merits of democracy around the world.

So I accepted President Yudhoyono’s invitation and I look forward to co-chairing a section of the Bali Democracy Forum with him tomorrow.

JOURNALIST: Which leaders have you lined up bilateral meetings with and will you be seeking a meeting with President Ahmadinejad?

PM: Most certainly not on the last.


PM: Well for all the obvious reasons. On the bilateral meetings I will be meeting with President Yudhoyono for a direct discussion as well as participating in the Bali Democracy forum and co-chairing a section with him. I will be meeting with the President of Korea, with President Lee, and we will look to other bilateral arrangements. But clearly I won’t be meeting with the President of Iran.

JOURNALIST: What are the obvious reasons for not meeting, isn’t it a good idea to open diplomatic relations with a country that causes friction in the Middle East?

PM: Well we do have an embassy in Iran and we through our embassy and more generally make clear our views about the conduct of Iran, particularly their conduct in relation to nuclear material, the issue that the world has been dealing with. We’ve made very clear our attitude to that conduct, were engaged in sanctions, as is the world on Iran. And we have also made very clear our disgust at the statements made threatening the future of Israel.

JOURNALIST: With the US elections just passed, both potential candidates, Obama being the winner, have expressed a need to open up to Iran and open up a diplomatic dialogue. You don’t seem to share that view?

PM: I am not going to engage in some false divide here. You have asked me a direct question about whether or not I have a bilateral discussion with the President of Iran. I do not.

We of course have diplomatic relations with Iran. We have an embassy in Iran and we use our embassy and other channels to make our views very clear as do other nations around the world use the channels available to them to make their views very clear. So let’s not set up a straw man divide here, there isn’t one.

JOURNALIST: There is one session on human rights, is it going to be something that is a bit more difficult for Australia to lecture on be upstanding given the very hard line stance on refugees?

PM: We of course raise our voice around the world on human rights questions and the way in which we conduct ourselves in accordance with our obligations under the Refugee Convention upholds human rights standards, I don’t accept the premise of the question.

JOURNALIST: Will you be raising Asylum Seekers with SBY in your talks with him and what will you be seeking to resolve.

PM: I am not going to canvas in advance issues that will be dealt with in bilaterals but I would be happy to speak with you after we have had various bilateral discussions.

Okay, thank you very much.