Joint doorstop: Foreign Minister Bishop and Defence Minister Johnston

US Department of State, Washington, DC

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

20 November 2013

FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: We have just concluded our first AUSMIN meeting with Secretaries Kerry and Hagel and Senator Johnston and I agree it's been a most productive and fruitful day. We have covered a whole range of issues where Australian and United States interests converge. We have reaffirmed our commitment to the Alliance and the bilateral cooperation between our two countries. In particular we focused on challenges in the region. We discussed the disaster relief effort in the Philippines where both Australia and the United States are working hard to help restore some order in the Philippines after that devastating natural disaster. We discussed the joint force posture initiatives. We discussed regional challenges. We discussed global challenges. So all in all it was a most productive meeting and we thank the United States' hosts for their gracious hospitality.

QUESTION: How much of your time with Secretary Kerry was taken up with discussion of the revelations of the spying against Indonesia and the fall-out of that and how maybe to best handle it, given the Americans have been through the same thing?

FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: We discussed a whole range of issues. We spent most of the day discussing matters that affect the region in which we live. We spent a long time talking about global issues but as far as specific intelligence allegations are concerned I'm not going to give a public commentary on them. I've answered this question, must be a dozen times now, and each time I've said that we do not, as a matter of principle, as a matter of policy, comment on intelligence matters and certainly not on allegations.

QUESTION: Rather than discuss intelligence could I ask you a question about diplomacy. Did the Secretary of State express any concern about the current state of the relationship between Indonesia and Australia?

FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: We discussed a whole range of matters and relationships between our countries with other nations in the region and more generally so relationships, diplomatic relationships with a range of countries were discussed at least.

QUESTION: Was there any discussion though of how it affects America's pivot to Asia, to have discord of this type between Australia and Indonesia?

FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: We discussed the rebalance and how much the nations in our region embrace the United States' focus on the region. The rebalance has been widely welcomed and, of course, we discussed that it was pivotal to our discussions because President Obama made the statement about the rebalance in Canberra, two years ago and we've discussed the implications of it and they've been positive. Nations in the region are looking for more leadership, more engagement from the United States and Australia welcomes that.

QUESTION: Regarding the pivot, sorry, regarding the TPP. Could I ask you a question about the TPP? How close is Australia to completing its negotiations over the TPP with America and, in those talks, have you come to an agreement over intellectual property?

FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: The negotiations are continuing but they are confidential, as one would expect, given it's an agreement where there are a number of states involved. But we are feeling quite optimistic that the agreement will be concluded and the time frame is unclear but we're certainly ambitious yet pragmatic about how long it would take to conclude such an agreement but I won't go into the detail of it because negotiations are underway. We will certainly not conclude an agreement that's against Australia's national interest. We'll conclude an agreement that is in Australia's national interest but those negotiations are still underway.

Thank you.

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