9 July 1998


The annual Australia/United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) will be held in Sydney on 31 July 1998.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Defence, Ian McLachlan said today that they were looking forward to welcoming their counterparts, the United States Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and Secretary of Defense, William Cohen.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, will open AUSMIN and host a dinner in honour of the US delegation the night before, and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, Tim Fischer, will join the talks over lunch.

The Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dr Ashton Calvert and the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Mr Paul Barratt will also participate in the meeting, together with the Defence force chiefs. The Chief of the Defence Force Admiral Chris Barrie and the Vice-Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Doug Riding will be joined by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry Shelton, and Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Command, Admiral Joseph Prueher.

Held annually, hosted alternately by Australia and the United States, AUSMIN is the key forum for bilateral consultations on foreign, defence and security policy. This year's meeting will involve an exchange of views and assessments on key current issues, and explore ways of advancing their common interest in global and regional peace and prosperity, and in the development of the bilateral relationship.

Mr Downer and Mr McLachlan noted that US engagement in the Asia Pacific was a central underpinning for the security and stability of the region.

Designed to build on the progress made in previous AUSMIN meetings, including the Sydney Statement issued at the conclusion of the 1996 Consultations which emphasises the regional focus of the alliance relationship between the two countries, the Ministers said this year's talks would focus on key regional developments with particular emphasis on the Asian economic crisis.

The meeting will review Australia-US cooperation with the aim of promoting a secure and prosperous region.

Other important areas for discussion will be bilateral defence cooperation, developments in military technology, global security and trade and economic cooperation, including bilateral trade issues and the world's response to nuclear tests by India and Pakistan.

Mr Downer and Mr McLachlan emphasised that the relationship with the US was "one of great breadth and depth.

"The AUSMIN Consultations, conducted at such a senior level, are not only extremely valuable for both parties but are indicative of the excellent state of that relationship".


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