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Transcript of press conference: Palo Alto, California: 24July 2018: AUSMIN

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Press Conference at the Australia-US Ministerial



Transcript, E&OE

Palo Alto, California

24 July 2018


Well, good morning, everyone. I want to first thank Minister for

Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop and the Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne,

as well as

their team, for joining us here in California.


Secretary of State George Shultz and Admiral William Crowe travelled to


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 best

friends and strongest allies. They’re

truly that all across the world, and we

will continue to work closely together on a range of

key bilateral and global



Mattis and I have had two great days of meetings with Foreign Minister Bishop

and Defence Minister Payne. We coordinated closely on aligning our strategic

priorities in

the Indo-Pacific and beyond. We also reinforced our commitment to

ANZUS Treaty, which

came into force in 1951, to coordinate how we meet common

threats. I’ll let Secretary

Mattis speak more directly on our shared security

efforts, but I can say that on that front our

cooperation and our efforts and

our alliance is rock solid.

We also

strategised on how best to pursue our shared vision of a free and open


Pacific. Both of our countries will continue to work with likeminded

partners to protect

freedom of the skies and seas, to promote market economies,

to support good governance

and liberty, and to insulate sovereign nations from

external coercion.

Next week, a

week from yesterday, I’ll be articulating more closely and more completely our

vision for a thoroughly successful Indo-Pacific economic relationship. I’ll be

speaking to the

Indo-Pacific Business Forum in Washington along with

Secretaries Perry and Ross. But

make no mistake about it - the economic

relationship between our two countries is strong,

whether that’s foreign direct

investment, the work that we do on technology together, the

fact that we have

Australian students here and American students learning there. The


relationship between our two countries is unrivalled in the world, and I think

everyone in the region should know that.

The United

States and Australia speak with one voice also in calling for a final, fully


denuclearised North Korea, as agreed to by Chairman Kim. Australia

has been a great

supporter. They understand that the pressure campaign against

the DPRK, including the

continued enforcement of sanctions, is an imperative

for the world to successfully succeed

in denuclearizing North Korea.


Our teams at

Department of State and Department of Defense will keep doing their part to

strengthen this alliance that has done so much for our two nations and for the

regional and

global peace and stability. The United States and Australia both

know we can count on

each other constantly, even as challenges present

themselves in an era of great

competition and uncertainty.

I’d like to

now invite Foreign Minister Bishop to say a few words.


Thank you, Secretary Pompeo and Secretary

Mattis, for hosting this

AUSMIN Meeting, our annual Australia-US ministerial

dialogue. Both Senator Payne and I

were delighted by the warm welcome. We think

it is so fitting that it should be here on the

West coast, as we both have a

key focus on peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

It was also

fitting that it should be held at the Hoover Institution, for the 31st President

of the

United States, after whom this institution is named, spent a number of

his formative years in

Australia and was a key player in the establishment and

building of our global mining and

resources industry. And we’re delighted to be

here also because it was near here, 67 years

ago, that Australia and the US

signed the ANZUS Treaty.

So this is

an opportunity, and has been an opportunity, for us to confirm the strength and

the steadfastness of our relationship. We reinforced our collective commitment

to 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 are

aligned in so many

important ways.

Ours is a

partnership about promoting stability and security and prosperity in our


and we discussed ways where we can continue to work closely together to

enhance that

commitment, including in economic engagement. We are certainly

looking forward to your

upcoming speech on the US’ engagement, economically - speaking,

in the region.

Over two

days and five working sessions, we covered a lot of ground, and we have

produced a fact sheet, which sets out our joint work plan. These meetings are


opportunities for us to reassess our priorities and then confirm what

work we’re going to do

together in the future.

A key focus

of this AUSMIN was our commitment to the Indo-Pacific, and this is arguably


world’s most dynamic region. There are many opportunities but also many


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 is

its network of alliances and

partnerships around the world. And so as allies

and partners, we discussed ways that we

can work more constructively with

countries in our region, including the 10 members of

ASEAN, with China, with

Japan, with India, and with the Pacific Island nations.

We did

discuss challenges. And we congratulate the United States on the recent


Summit and your efforts in bringing stability to the Korean

Peninsula, and we certainly back

your efforts in that regard.


We discussed

Middle East conflicts. We discussed our work together in countering


We discussed foreign interference, the cyber challenges that we face. We also

discussed many great opportunities for greater trade and investment. Our two

countries are

already strong trading partners. The United States is one of our

most important, if not our

most important economic partner, given the level of

investment that the United States

makes in Australia as well as our trading


We enjoyed

very much working with you. We’re looking forward to a deep engagement over


next 12 months as we lead into AUSMIN 2019, when we will host you in Australia.

Thank you.


Well, thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for

being here with us this

morning. I was honoured to join Minister Bishop,

Minister Payne, Secretary Pompeo as we

concluded our 28th Australia-United

States Ministerial talks. And the talks were an excellent

opportunity to

bolster our relationship - in my case the security relationship - and to

reaffirm our steadfast alliance and close collaboration.

In these

past 12 months, we have strengthened our defence cooperation in many tangible

ways, finalising our respective national security and defence strategies to

address shared

threats and increasing our coordination of joint capabilities

development. We’ve enhanced

our interoperability and our cooperation in the

region through Exercise RIMPAC and

numerous other exercises, and that’s

continuing our 100-year tradition of teamwork, or

mateship as our friends from

Down Under call it.


Payne and I signed a cyber memorandum of understanding to enable our countries

to perform research and development and together advance our combined cyber

capabilities. And our Marine Rotational Force in Darwin will reach the

previously agreed-

upon number of 2,500 on a timeline determined by our host

nation partner, Australia.

These actions, to borrow a phrase from Minister

Payne, demonstrate that the United States

and Australia will walk the walk in

the Indo-Pacific.

We share the

same strategic goal: to ensure a free, open, inclusive, and prosperous


Pacific, where nations large and small are respected and accorded the

protection of

international law. The joint work plan we put forth today will

help bring this goal to fruition

with concrete steps to enhance US-Australia

cooperation across our governments by

further integrating our combined military

operations and committing to step up US-

Australian coordination and engagement

across the region, including the noted Pacific



North Korea, we will keep the pressure on the regime’s denuclearisation through

the enforcement of the UN Security Council’s international sanctions imposed

with the

Security Council’s unanimous backing to prevent ship-to-ship transfers

of energy supplies.

We have also partnered on defence innovation. There we will

explore all opportunities for

deeper defence industry collaboration now that

Australia is included in the US National

Technology and Industrial Base.

Overall, our

discussions furthered cooperation on these and more issues, strengthening our

response to various security challenges. Ministers Bishop and Payne, thank you

for your

candor throughout our discussions - an openness only possible between

loyal and trusted


allies. And Australia has been an unwavering friend standing

with us through thick and thin,

and it was demonstrated by being the first ally

on the ground beside us in Afghanistan

following the 9/11 attack on America, an

attack that cost 11 Australian citizens their lives

during the hit on New York

City. And we do not forget the families of your soldiers, fellow

Ministers. We

don’t forget the families of your soldiers who have fallen alongside us. I’m

confident our enduring and unflappable mateship will continue to grow and

flourish for

another 100 years.

Thank you.

Minister Payne.


Thank you very much, Jim. To Secretary Mattis and Secretary

Pompeo, thank you very much for hosting us here for AUSMIN 2018. I also want to


our teams, who’ve worked enormously hard to put this together. These

things don’t happen

out of the clear blue sky, so the effort that has gone into

that we very much appreciate. Fair

to say we all feel very secure as well, so

thank you very much for that support.

I want to

acknowledge both my friend Ambassador Joe Hockey and my friend chargé


Carouso for their support for AUSMIN 2018 as well.

This is my

third AUSMIN and it’s particularly good to be here in Palo Alto. Jim, I can

certainly understand why you loved it here so much, or why you do love it here

so much, in

fact. But importantly for us and part of our discussion today, it’s

also a region that is

synonymous with innovation, with collaboration, with US

ingenuity and leadership.

There’s been

a lot said in recent times about the history of the Australia-US defence

relationship - 100 years of mateship - of the shared history and the shared

sacrifice. But

it’s also the ability of our two nations to innovate, and for

the relationship to evolve that

underpins its success.


indeed it was Monash’s groundbreaking tactics a hundred years ago at the Battle

of Hamel when he led United States troops for the first time, or the joint


programs that we’re undertaking today across so many fields - the

Poseidon P-8, the

Triton, the Growler, just as examples - we continue to

innovate and to collaborate to

ensure that our alliance is relevant to and,

most particularly, ready for today’s challenges.

Nowhere, in

fact, as Secretary Mattis has mentioned, is the need for innovation more


than in cyber, which continues to be a pervasive threat to our

militaries and to our


So we have

signed an MOU today to deepen cybersecurity cooperation so that we’re able


jointly develop the tools and the software that we need to both protect and


against cyber threats.

And just as

the challenges continue to evolve, so does the Australia-US alliance. We,

however, remain absolutely committed to working with the US to ensure that that


remains strong and responsive to emerging threats, especially in our


Together, as

Secretary 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 those


that we hold so dear.


Indeed, as

we speak, more than 1,600 Australian defence personnel are participating in the

world’s largest international naval exercise, the US-led Rim of the Pacific, or


We’ve all

benefitted from the region’s stability for decades. It’s been underpinned by


rules-based global order. And both Australia and the United States are

committed to

working with our allies and partners throughout the Indo-Pacific

to ensure that the region

remains open and inclusive and prosperous. And we

agreed 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’s

through exercises with our allies and partners, or building a regional capacity


respond toward our shared challenges of counterterrorism, of humanitarian

disasters, or

maritime security. There is much that Australia and the US do do

together and can do

together to strengthen the security of this region.

In relation

to North Korea, we are very clear that we’re committed to strengthening

cooperation to achieve the final, fully verified denuclearisation of the DPRK,

and of keeping

a focus on sanctions enforcement as well. We also discussed the

potential repatriation of

personnel missing in action from the Korean War

following the historic Singapore summit.

Australia has 43 personnel missing in

action in the Demilitarised Zone and in North Korea.

Their unknown fate

continues to be a source of pain and mystery to their families. We’ve


dental records and DNA information from Australia to assist in the

identification of

any remains that may be provided to the United States. This

remains a challenging

process, but a very, very important one. I’m sure there

are still hurdles to come in that

process, but I do want to thank the United

States particularly for their assistance.

Not that

we’re necessarily into quoting each other back and forth, but the Secretary did


in our bilateral yesterday that this is a relationship that is never taken

for granted. And it is a

sentiment very deeply held by both sides. Let me again

thank both Secretary Pompeo and

Secretary Mattis for hosting us here today, and

as Minister Bishop said, we look forward to

seeing you in Australia for AUSMIN



ladies and gentlemen.


Now for those questions, I believe we’ll

start with Fox News. Claudia



Thank you very much. Thank you for your

comments this morning. I

have a question for Secretary Pompeo and a follow-up

with Secretary Mattis, if I may.

Secretary Pompeo, I know you’re testifying on

Capitol Hill tomorrow about the Helsinki

summit. What is your understanding of

the agreements that were made between President

Trump and President Putin

there? Have you met with the President to discuss those

agreements, and have

you seen any change in behaviour by the Russians that warrant a

second summit

invitation in Washington? Do you think that’s a good idea? And then


Mattis, sir, have you been asked to prepare options for working with the

Russians in Syria, and do you have any concerns about doing so? Thank you.



Thanks for your question about the US-Australia relationship, I

appreciate that. Yes, look, I’ve spoken with the President about the meeting

that he held

with President Putin, and I was part of a larger discussion as

well. I’ve spoken to Secretary

- to Foreign Minister Lavrov following that. And

the President’s been clear about some of

the things that were agreed to. We’re

going to begin to put together a business council,

there’ll be places we’ll

start track-two processes - there were many things that came from

what I view

as an incredibly important meeting between President Trump and President


one that I’m - I think the world will have benefited from when history is


I am looking

forward to testifying tomorrow. We’ll testify about a lot of things, including


relationship between the United States and Russia. But I think - I think

one of the things

that gets lost is the determination that this administration

has had in pushing back against

Russian malign behaviour around the world. It

is unequaled in the history of the United

States in terms of when there was a

post-Cold War conflict between the United States and

Russia, how firm this

administration has been in pushing back against those threats. And I


forward to testifying about that tomorrow as well. Jim?


Yeah, in regard to Syria, what we do with the

Russian Federation is

we deconflict our operations. We do not coordinate them;

we deconflict them in time and in

space to make certain along the deconfliction

lines we are not creating hazardous

conditions. But we will not - we will not

be doing anything additional until the Secretary of

State and the President

have further figured out at what point we are going to start working


our allies with Russia in the future. That has not happened yet and it would be

premature for me to go into any more detail at this point, because we’re not

doing any more

than this.


The next question goes to Cameron Stewart

from The Australian.


Thank you. Secretary Pompeo, Minister Bishop

has recently

expressed concern about China’s creeping strategic and economic

influence in the South

Pacific. I wonder what you think about this and how the

US 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 Australia

conduct a unilateral freedom of navigation operation in the

South China Sea

within 12 nautical miles. While respecting that that is Australia’s decision,

would you, as defence secretary, like to see Australia do such a thing? And

finally, to

Minister Bishop, the Australia-US alliance is very strong today,

but Donald Trump has

proved to be a transactional president when it comes to

some close allies. Are you

confident that the alliance could withstand any

buffeting from an unpredictable president?


Well, I feel compelled to answer your third one too, but I’ll - I’m

confident Foreign Minister Bishop can handle that. Let me speak to - we spent a

lot of time

over the course of the last two days talking about how to maintain

a free and open Indo-

Pacific. That threat emanates from lots of places;

certainly China poses concerns there.

And we talked about all the various

elements of power - economic, diplomatic. You talked

about freedom of

navigation, I’ll let Secretaries Mattis and - Secretary Bishop speak to that


little more directly.


But I don’t

think anyone should underestimate the United States continued commitment to

this. It - we do it in different ways. We’re a democratic society, so our power

is projected in

ways that are unique and different from the way that countries

that 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 American

ally, the enormity of having a country that

consistently, over decades,

projects the democratic values, the human dignity that comes

with having an

American 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 South

Pacific, but all across

the world. I think the capacity of America as a partner

to inspire, and to create a place

where we value our partners in a way that is

continuous and noble is unique in history, and

one that I think the world fully

appreciates. Jim?


Well, we’re totally aligned, Australia and

the United States, with what

we want as an end state in the Pacific, and that

is of course the free and the open Indo-

Pacific, where nations large and small

are treated with respect for their territorial integrity,

for their

sovereignty, their sovereign decisions. And I think that as we look at the


China Sea, our concern is that features that have never been militarised

before have been

militarised by the PRC. We’ve been very - over several

administrations - we’ve been very

clear we disagree with that. But as far as

freedom of navigation decisions by Australia,

that’s a sovereign decision by a

sovereign state. And we coordinate, collaborate across the

realm in terms of

our military exercises, our military operations. And right now, we’ll just

leave that decision with the people of Australia, which is exactly where it belongs.


The relationship between the United States

and Australia is

longstanding, deep, enduring, and at this meeting we committed

anew to working together

in the furtherance of our alliance and our objectives.

We are committed to an open,

prosperous, inclusive Indo-Pacific. We’re

committed to the rule of law and the international

rules-based order that has

underpinned stability and prosperity, relatively speaking, since

the United

States instigated that rules-based order over 70 years ago and continues to be

the defender and guarantor.

We have

already established a very close working relationship with the Trump


right from the outset. And as we’ve often said, the relationship is so deep


so enduring that changes in the White House and changes in the Lodge in


don’t dent the strength of that relationship. We have a very open and

frank dialogue with

the United States, with our counterparts, but also

President Trump and Prime Minister

Turnbull have established a very close

working relationship. We don’t always agree with

the United States and the

United States doesn’t always agree with us, but we are able to

work through any

differences in a very constructive and positive way, and we’ll continue to



I want to

take this opportunity to thank the United States for the commitment to working

with us in relation to MH17 and holding Russia to account over its role in the

downing of

that Malaysian airline that killed 298 people, including 38

Australian citizens and residents.

And that’s just an example of how we rely on

the United States and how we are grateful for

the support that they give us in

relation to a matter that is very dear and personal to the

hearts of all



So from my

perspective - and this is my fifth AUSMIN - from my perspective, the

relationship is as deep and strong as it’s ever been, and I’m certainly looking

forward to

working with Secretaries Pompeo and Mattis as we work through the

fact sheet that I

believe has been handed out that just gives you an indication

of the breadth and depth and

the diversity of the areas where we collaborate

and cooperate and will continue to do so.


Next question goes to Alexandria Sage with



Thank you, good morning. A few questions for

multiple parties here.

For Secretary Pompeo and Foreign Minister Bishop, there

are reports that North Korea has

already begun to dismantle its facilities at

its Sohae test site. Could you confirm that, and

what moves - further moves

would you like to see and how soon?

Then for

Secretary Mattis, if I may, the President’s tweet on Iran suggested a possible

military strike. Where do you see the red line that Iran would have to cross

for the US to

engage in military force, and are you concerned about some

miscalculation between US

and Iranian forces in the region based on this

escalating rhetoric?

Finally, if

I may, Foreign Minister Bishop, could you please update us as to how recently

you may have been in touch with authorities in Myanmar for the release of our


colleagues who have been tortured under custody? Thank you.


So let me take the first one first, and then I’ll turn it over to


Mattis. So we’ve seen the open press reporting about the missile

engine test site. It’d be

entirely consistent with the commitment that Chairman

Kim made to President Trump when

the two of them were in Singapore together. He

made that commitment to them orally.

We’ve been pressing for there to be inspectors

on the ground when that engine test facility

is dismantled consistent with

Chairman Kim’s commitment, and I’ll leave it at that for this


The second

part of your question was what further steps would you like to take. That’s

easy. They need to completely, fully denuclearise. That’s the steps that

Chairman Kim

committed to and that the world has demanded through UN Security

Council resolutions.

It’s that straightforward.


Yeah, on Iran, I think that what we have to

look at is the destabilising

influence that Iran has consistently portrayed and

demonstrated throughout the region. And

the only reason that the murderer Assad

is 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


capabilities demonstrated from Bahrain to the kingdom. And it’s time for Iran


shape up and show responsibility as a responsible nation. It cannot continue

to show

irresponsibility as some revolutionary organisation that is intent on

exporting terrorism,

exporting disruption across the region. So I think the

President was making very clear that

they’re on the wrong track.


In relation to North Korea, Australia stands

firmly with the United

States and the international community in holding North

Korea to abide by the numerous

UN Security Council resolutions that banned its

nuclear weapons and ballistic missile


programs, and we will offer whatever

support we can in the process of verifying the

complete dismantling of those

programs. In the meantime, we will continue to enforce the

sanctions and assist

in the enforcement regime to ensure that North Korea is held to the

promises it’s

made to the President and to the United States about denuclearisation. We’re

all seeking stability and security on the Korean Peninsula, and the full and


denuclearisation of North Korea is fundamental to that.

In relation

to the two Reuters journalists that have been detained in Myanmar, our


have attended every one of the hearings that have taken place. We are

aware that the

judge has now committed the two journalists to trial. We are in

contact with the journalists’

lawyers and we will continue to make

representations through our Embassy in Myanmar to

the government. Of course,

there is a judicial process, a legal process, underway, but we

are maintaining

a very close eye on this particular case because it does go to the whole


of the freedom of the press in Myanmar and the integrity of its legal system.


we are working very closely with other likeminded countries on this and we

will continue to

be present, through our representatives, at each of the court

hearings, and we’ll also

continue to make representations through our contacts

with the Myanmar Government.


Last question is to Ashlee Mullany with

Channel 7.


Secretary Pompeo, I have a question today

from Anthony Maslin

and Marite Norris of Perth, Western Australia. Their young

children, Mo, Evie, and Otis,

were murdered on flight MH17, along with their

grandfather and 294 other innocent people.

This is a question on their behalf

in their words: That the plane was hit by a Russian missile

has been proven to

be an irrefutable fact. That this killed our three beautiful children and


grandfather and destroyed our life and many other lives has been proven to be -


rather, an irrefutable fact. Secretary Pompeo, will the United States, our friend

and ally,

help Australia hold Russia to account, and how?


Well, I appreciate the question from you - from them. It’s - my

condolences to their family. It’s indeed a tragedy. The United States has

already been a

great partner for the Netherlands and for Australia in trying to

identify who shot down this

plane. We need the Russians to continue to be held

accountable for that. We take this

matter seriously and we committed over these

last two days, as we have for the last

months, to continue to support every

effort through the Joint Investigative Team to hold the

perpetrators for this

heinous activity accountable. You have America’s support in that and


continue to do so.

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