Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations

Joint Communiqué

  • The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • The Hon Stephen Smith MP, Australian Minister for Defence
  • The Right Honourable William Hague MP, UK First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
  • The Right Honourable Dr Liam Fox MP, UK Secretary of State for Defence

Sydney

18 January 2011

Minister for Foreign Affairs Kevin Rudd, Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague and Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox met for the third Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN III) at HMAS Watson in Sydney on 18 January 2011.

AUKMIN III highlighted the importance and strength of the deep and longstanding bilateral relationship between Australia and the UK and its capacity to address contemporary global and regional challenges. AUKMIN consultations were previously held in the UK in 2006 and 2008.

Australia and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to working with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.

Australia and the UK are committed to working together to promote global stability and prosperity and advance common interests related to bilateral strategic, defence, foreign and intelligence policy matters. The two countries agreed the G20 will continue to play a vital role in supporting global prosperity and undertook to continue to work constructively together toward securing strong, sustainable and balanced economic growth.

Both countries affirmed the value of holding regular AUKMIN consultations to continue to provide the political leadership and strategic direction necessary to respond to contemporary global challenges.

Australia and the UK welcomed reinvigoration of the bilateral strategic and defence relationship in response to the new challenges and threats generated by the changing international environment. Both countries acknowledged that Australian and UK foreign, defence and security agencies needed to continue evolving to respond to contemporary challenges, and continue advancing our shared strategic interests.

While globalisation and interconnectedness bring new opportunities for growth and development, both countries recognised that new threats to the security of their citizens and their interests are also emerging. National interests are now affected, more than ever before, by events which take place beyond the borders of our own nations. Australia and the UK acknowledged the value of cooperating with third countries in assessing and addressing strategic and security challenges.

Australia and the UK are committed to working together in concrete and practical ways to shape a more secure environment and advance common interests with respect to outer space and cyber security.

Intelligence cooperation between Australia and the UK is long-established and of high value. Exchanges on counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism are notably important at present, given their transnational character. Both countries agreed to maintain and build on the intelligence partnership.

International Security and Stability

Australia and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to ISAF efforts to deny terrorists safe haven and a base for activity in Afghanistan. They paid tribute to those Australian and UK personnel who had lost their lives or were wounded in Afghanistan.

Australia and the UK shared the assessment made in the United States' recent Afghanistan and Pakistan Annual Review that progress had been made in Afghanistan, but that continued efforts were essential to maintain pressure on the insurgency, build the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and advance governance and development. Australia and the UK agreed to increase cooperation on stabilisation by sharing expertise, experience and lessons in stabilisation work on the ground at provincial and district levels. Both nations also supported the Annual Review's assessment that terrorist networks in Pakistan's border areas are a threat to all, especially to Pakistan and to the international community's efforts in Afghanistan. Australia and the UK concur that both the Afghanistan and Pakistan challenges should be seen in the wider political and regional contexts.

Australia and the UK reaffirmed the importance of their long-term commitment to Pakistan. Australia and the UK affirmed that their interests in Pakistan's stability were aligned with Pakistan's own longer-term interests of stability, security and economic growth. Both countries highlighted the importance of Pakistan implementing its economic and political reform agendas.

Australia and the UK reaffirmed the need to continue practical support for Pakistan's efforts to combat violent extremism. Both countries emphasised Pakistan's strategic importance and its responsibility to contribute to regional stability as a partner in international efforts to address terrorism and militant extremism.

Australia and the UK welcomed the outcomes of the recent NATO/ISAF Leaders' Summit in Lisbon, particularly the strong support for a conditions-based transition process starting in early 2011 that would enable the ANSF to assume responsibility for security by the end of 2014. Both countries welcomed the Enduring Partnership between NATO and Afghanistan signed at the Lisbon Summit.

Australia and the UK concurred that enduring civilian efforts to strengthen governance and advance development were important to building stability in Afghanistan. Both countries welcomed each other's additional civilian contributions to Afghanistan since AUKMIN II.

Australia and the UK reinforced their support for the commitments made by the Afghan Government to combat corruption and strengthen institutions that provide basic services for the benefit of Afghan citizens.

Australia and the UK highlighted their strong support for a just and enduring peace in the Middle East based on a negotiated two-state solution where Israel and a future Palestinian state live side by side in peace and security. Both countries highlighted the urgent need for Israel and the Palestinians to return, as a matter of urgency, to direct talks on final status issues, and to refrain from actions which undermined confidence, such as settlement construction. Both countries reaffirmed their practical support for Palestinian institution-building in preparation for statehood.

Australia and the UK reiterated their deep concern over Iran's continuing failure to comply with UN Security Council (UNSC) and IAEA resolutions on its nuclear activities, and their commitment to rigorous implementation of UNSC and autonomous sanctions. They noted that the meeting between the P5+1 and Iran on 6-7 December 2010 was a positive step and urged Iran to engage constructively with the P5+1 at talks later this month to remove doubt about its nuclear intentions. They noted with concern the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and called on Iran to meet its international human rights obligations.

Australia and the UK noted their deep disappointment that Burma's 7 November elections were neither free nor fair. Both countries welcomed the release of Aung San Suu Kyi on 13 November and called for the immediate release of the more than 2,200 political prisoners still detained in Burma. They called on the authorities to begin a process of genuine and inclusive dialogue with all political and ethnic groups in Burma, including the National League for Democracy and other political parties that chose not to, or were not permitted to, contest the elections.

Australia and the UK, while encouraged by the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the New Year period, expressed concern about the DPRK's violent, provocative behaviour in 2010, including the 23 November artillery attack and revelations about the DPRK's uranium enrichment program. Australia and the UK called on the DPRK to take concrete steps to demonstrate its commitment to peace and security on the Peninsula, including denuclearisation. Both countries agreed that it was essential to avoid a “proliferation cascade” and to preserve the integrity of established international non-proliferation norms.

Australia and the UK share a strong interest in stability in Sudan and urged all parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to respect the outcome of the referendum on the possible independence of southern Sudan and to resolve their outstanding differences through negotiation. Both countries affirmed their continuing commitment to helping Sudan tackle its development and security challenges.

Australia and the UK agreed on continued cooperation on counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa. Australia and the UK recognised that regional states require support and assistance to successfully prosecute alleged pirates to ensure piracy does not compromise the freedom and security of the seas. They acknowledged that stabilising the situation in Somalia was a long-term task central to efforts to reduce piracy in the Horn of Africa.

Countering Global Threats

The increasingly diffuse nature of the threat from terrorism and the challenges posed by continuing violent extremism require enhanced international cooperation in the establishment of new response measures. Australia and the UK agreed to continue to coordinate responses to terrorist threats and to maintain close cooperation on proliferation threats to prevent and deter states and non-state actors from acquiring the materials and technology for weapons of mass destruction.

Australia and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to continued international and regional engagement in working with Yemen to find solutions to Yemen's economic and political challenges, and to ensure that Yemen does not become a safe haven for terrorist activity.

The UK and Australia agreed that the disruption of Jema'ah Islamiyah (JI) by Indonesia and Indonesia's commitment to eradicating terrorism were major achievements. Nevertheless, extremist messages continued to appeal to some, and extremist groups would continue to pose a threat in South-East Asia.

Ministers welcomed the forthcoming signing of a Memorandum of Understanding concerning National Security and Counter-Terrorism Cooperative Science and Innovation, and noted the opportunity to address shared national security capability challenges through collaboration on science and technology capability.

Australia and the UK reaffirmed their commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and to a world free of nuclear weapons.

Both countries pledged to continue to cooperate closely, including in the context of current Arms Trade Treaty negotiations, to deter and prevent the illicit transfer of conventional arms to conflict-prone, weak and fragile states, including in the Pacific.

New Security Challenges

New technologies have brought great opportunities, but also new security challenges. The Australia-UK security partnership, founded on the challenges of the last century, has itself adapted and evolved to tackle emerging security issues in cyber and outer space. Australia and the UK are committed to working together to shape a more secure environment and advance common interests on these emerging issues.

Cyber intrusions are an increasing challenge for the security of systems and networks of national importance. Australia and the UK are already working closely together to confront the growing threats we face to our cyber security, and it is vital to our wider, shared security and defence interests that we do so.

It is the intention of Australia and the UK to use the existing joint work as the basis for a comprehensive cyber partnership. We are developing a shared vision for the future security of cyberspace, based on our common values. We will work together to advance this vision and to contribute to the development of international norms for cyberspace.

Australia and the UK will coordinate our diplomatic, defence and security efforts to that end. We will continue to deepen our collaboration across a range of activities and between the agencies and departments that are responsible for delivering cyber security.

Australia and the UK welcomed the US decision, reflected in the June 2010 US National Space Policy, to consider practical and verifiable space arms control measures. Australia and the UK supported the need for space arms control measures that meet these criteria and agreed that they should be focused on preventing behaviours that threaten the peaceful use of space by all nations.

Australia and the UK also agreed to support the development and implementation of transparency and confidence building measures for space, to enhance stability and safety in space activities.

Australia and the UK agreed that an effective response to climate change underpins our long-term security as well as our prosperity. Recent extreme weather events around the world, including in Australia, vividly illustrate the threat we can expect climate change to pose. While individual weather events can rarely be linked with certainty to climate change, climate change models tell us that extreme weather events, including floods, droughts and heat waves, are likely to become more common as the world warms.

Climate change should be considered a key risk to both countries' economies, societies and environments and its long-term implications should be considered a fundamental national security challenge.

Both countries welcomed the conclusion of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties in Cancun, which puts the world on the path towards a legally binding global deal to tackle climate change under the UN.

Australia and the UK are committed to working closely together to establish and deliver the new mechanisms, approaches and agreements realised in Cancun and to help build international consensus to build on the success of Cancun at COP17 in Durban; and to continue the progress towards a legally binding climate change deal.

However, action on climate change is urgent and cannot wait for the signature of an international treaty. The governments of Australia and the UK are therefore committed to promoting swift action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions both at home and abroad.

Challenges and Opportunities in Asia-Pacific

The two countries discussed the rise of the economic and strategic influence of Asia. Australia and the UK expressed a shared goal of continued strategic engagement with all international partners in support of a rules-based approach to regional and global governance. Both expressed their shared national interest in peace and stability, respect for international law, unimpeded lawful commerce, and application of the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, including in relation to freedom of navigation. Both countries viewed maritime law enforcement, particularly protection of fish stocks, as a major security challenge for the Southwest Pacific. Australia and the United Kingdom agreed that the expansion of the EAS to include the US and Russia would contribute to regional security and economic prosperity.

Australia and the UK are committed to seeking a constructive and cooperative relationship with China on regional economic development and common security concerns, as well as on addressing global challenges. Both acknowledged the importance of engaging with China and other partners on good governance and sustainable economic development in the Pacific region.

Australia and the United Kingdom confirmed their support for steps that would hasten the restoration of democratic institutions and the rule of law in Fiji. Both countries emphasised that the commencement of genuine, inclusive political dialogue in Fiji, without preconditions or predetermined outcomes, as called for by Leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum, is a necessary first step. They deplored the continuation of the Public Emergency Regulations and their negative impact on human rights in Fiji.

The two countries reiterated their commitment to the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) as a vehicle of practical cooperation and stability in South East Asia. Australia and the UK agreed that a key strength of the FPDA is the ability of the Arrangements to remain relevant to the needs of its members and the strategic circumstances. Both countries undertook to remain engaged in FPDA exercises, within the limitations of their resources, and looked forward to the outcomes of the FPDA Stocktake which will be finalised by the 40th Anniversary of the Arrangements on 1 November 2011.

Aid and Development

Australia and the UK both recognise the explicit links between national security, poverty reduction and development. Both countries are committed to significant increases in development assistance and to working together to ensure this leads to strong outcomes for developing countries, including progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.

The Partnership Agreement continues to underpin the close collaboration between AusAID and DFID. Examples include in Pakistan on health, education and the promotion of economic reform and towards post-flood recovery and reconstruction; in Africa on water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS and maternal and child health; in Afghanistan on stabilisation, reconstruction and development; and in Indonesia on climate change.

Australia and the UK reaffirmed their support for free trade and for working together to strengthen the healthy bilateral trade and investment relationship. Both sides recognise that trade can help build prosperity; increase jobs and drive competition and innovation. Both countries also recognise the need to work together to prevent the risk of protectionism damaging the global economic recovery.

Australia and the UK reaffirm their support for the conclusion of the Doha Development Round and for an ambitious, comprehensive and balanced package. Both sides recognise that 2011 is a critical window of opportunity for completing the endgame and that the engagement between trade negotiators must intensify and expand. Both countries recognise that the gains from trade liberalisation as well as the insurance against protectionism that the Doha Development Round can deliver are significant and will greatly benefit developing countries.

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Australia and the UK are looking forward to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Perth on 28-30 October. Both countries see it as an opportunity to reinvigorate engagement on democracy, development and human rights reaffirming the Commonwealth as a force for good in world affairs.

The countries discussed the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen and Head of the Commonwealth in 2012, reflecting on 60 years of steadfast service.

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