JULIE BISHOP: Ladies and gentlemen.
Today we have welcomed to Sydney and to AUSMIN, Secretaries John Kerry and Chuck
Hagel, and this is the second AUSMIN meeting that the four principals here have
participated in. The United States Alliance is the most important security
relationship for Australia, and AUSMIN is an annual opportunity for us to take
stock of this relationship, and today's discussion was broad in its scope. We
were frank in our exchanges, and there was a clear instinct for collaboration
across a wide area of endeavour.
There's a desire to share the burden of implementing our mutual vision, our
mutual goal, of regional and global peace and prosperity, security and
stability. At a bilateral level, we signed the Force Posture Initiatives, the
formal legally binding document about a presence of US Marines in the north of
our country, and we focus particularly on the humanitarian and disaster relief
aspects of having the assistance of the US in our region which is sadly prone to
natural disasters and other tragedies.
At a regional level, we discussed the tensions in the South China Sea.
Secretary Kerry and I have just returned from the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN
Regional Forum where the South China Sea was discussed at length, and we went
over some of those issues. But we also discussed the tensions on the Korean
Peninsula, and our mutual desire to see North Korea denuclearized in a
verifiable way and return to Six Party Talks.
We discussed the regional architecture and the need for the East Asia Summit
to be the premier regional forum. It has the right mandate, the right membership
to discuss matters of regional strategic significance. We talked about the
importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is where the US rebalance
finds its economic expression, and how important the TPP will be to opening up
and liberalizing markets in our region. We discussed the emergence of China and
other major powers in our region.
Globally, in the wake of the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, we
talked about the situation in Eastern Ukraine, and Russia's intentions, and the
behaviour of Russia in recent months and weeks involving the breach of
sovereignty in Ukraine and elsewhere. We had a long discussion on the Middle
East and the significant conflicts there, whether it be Syria, Iraq, or in Gaza,
and we also talked about Afghanistan and our commitment to Afghanistan
A considerable focus of our discussion was on counterterrorism, and more
specifically on the issue of foreign fighters. People going to fight in
conflicts around the world, leaving their countries, going to Syria, Iraq and
elsewhere, and becoming radicalized and taking part in extremist terrorist
activities is in fact an international problem. It's a concern for Australia;
it's a concern for the United States, but it's a topic that's raised
increasingly in countries in our region and across Europe. It's an international
problem, but the barbaric ideology that these extremists embrace is in fact a
threat to our way of life, a threat to our values, and we discussed ways that we
can bring this issue to international attention. So a major focus on the issue
of foreign fighters.
Overall, it was a most productive and most useful exchange from Australia's
point of view. We came up with a number of significant initiatives. The
communiqué sets out the detail of it, but I want to thank both Secretary Kerry
and Secretary Hagel for making the trip down under. We are always delighted to
see you in our part of the world. You have been in Asia and South East Asia on
so many occasions, and we always want you to come to Australia and count us in
on your discussions. The relationship has never been stronger, and we have
appreciated your commitment and focus on the issues that are of mutual concern
and of concern to Australia's national interest.
I will ask the Minister for Defence to say a few words, and then pass over to
our American friends.
Well, thank you, Julie, to Secretary Kerry and Secretary Hagel. Firstly, thank
you for the magnanimous, generous and gracious way that you have entered into
our discussions. I must say, I know I speak for Julie, it's an absolute delight
to be with you in your busy schedules, to discuss matters that are regionally
significant, but also in the wider area of world events, the problems we both
are worried about, how best to confront them and how best Australia can help the
United States in its very excellent leadership, particularly in this region.
Part of that is of course the re-balance, and we're delighted to have 1200,
approximately 1200, US marines in Darwin. That, ladies and gentlemen, is going
very seamlessly, very well, and it is a classic win-win situation. So today's
discussions have gone very cordially, very constructively and very frankly, as
you would expect with partners and friends of long standing.
So the re-balance has been, from our point of view, delivering the Marines
into Darwin, very, very successful. So that our region has of course,
benefitted, and I reiterate this to the secretaries, benefitted from the
stability of the past 20, 30 years. That stability has been delivered by US
leadership, and of course, the booming middle class of South East and East Asia
has been the end dividend of that stability. And so today we have enjoyed
discussing the challenges that we perceive coming over the horizon in the
future; matters such as counterterrorism, foreign fighters, which we both as two
countries have to deal with. Can I say that both Secretary Hagel and Secretary
Kerry bring an enormous amount of wisdom and wit to our discussions, and I must
say to you the discussions have been most enjoyable.
We share inter-operability across so many fronts. We have very large numbers
of people embedded in the United States in the US military. We’ve got 400 people
still in Afghanistan working with the Americans and our other ISAF partners
I want to end on that note by just saying thank you very much for the trust.
You know, when we're doing things together in the defence space, trust is a
really important part of that, and trust leads to great friendship, and I think
we have great friendship, and I thank you both for that.
JOHN KERRY: Well, thank
you very much, Julie. Good afternoon to all of you. Now, let me just - let me
begin by saying that I am really delighted to be here with Secretary Hagel at
the Australia United States ministerial meeting.
This is my first AUSMIN - as we call it - in Australia, and I really want to
thank Foreign Minister Bishop and Defence Minister Johnston for their
unbelievably warm welcome over the course of these two days. We had a very
productive dinner discussion last night just over the way from here, and today
we both joined together in thanking Governor General Cosgrove for opening up his
magnificent residence to us. It afforded a really superb venue to be able to sit
here quietly and be able to really dig in, in very personal ways, to very
complicated issues, and we thank them for this special venue and special
friendship that goes with it.
Secretary Hagel and I both want to begin any comments that we make here today
with an expression of our deepest condolences to the families and the loved ones
of the 38 Australians who lost their lives in the Flight 17 - Malaysia Airlines
Flight 17. We both want to affirm to Australia and to the world that we
absolutely demand, as does Australia, justice for this unconscionable crime. And
just as we stand together on so many issues, from the Asia Pacific, to the
Middle East, to Afghanistan and beyond, we will see this through together.
I have also had the very good fortune to work with our Australian friends for
many years - 29 years in the United States Senate, and a number of years as
chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, so when Secretary Hagel and I
served in Vietnam - slightly different times, but we both served there, we also
fought alongside - side-by-side with our Australian brothers, who were great
soldiers and great friends. In fact, Australian men and American men and women -
men and women on both sides have fought side by side in every major conflict
since World War I and we're proud of the friendship and the trust as Minister
Johnston was just saying that has grown out of this long time relationship.
I was very privileged to join Secretary Hagel and Foreign Minister Bishop and
Defence Minister Johnston last year at Arlington National Cemetery where we
honoured this special bond between Australians and the United States, a bond
that can only be forged through the sacrifice of war, which we both understand.
So I thank Australia at this moment particularly for stepping up yet again with
their offer of humanitarian assistance in Iraq at this moment of crisis.
The new Iraqi leadership has a very difficult challenge. It has to regain the
confidence of its citizens by governing inclusively but also by taking steps to
demonstrate their resolve and we're going to continue to stand with the Iraqi
people during this time of transition. And though we live in different
hemispheres and at opposite ends of the globe, the United States could ask for
no better friend and no closer ally than Australia.
Australia is a vital partner in so many different endeavours. It is vital as
we deepen the US economic engagement throughout the Asia Pacific, as we engage
in the rebalance, as both ministers have referred to it, which will bring the
United States even more to the effort to help create a larger economic
transformation in the region and to bring about a rule of law-based structure
where everybody understand the rules and where it is a race to the top, not to
We also are working hard together to try to complete a critical component of
that race to the top, which is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement. We
also discussed, as has been mentioned by both ministers, difficult regional and
global security challenges.
We didn't need to struggle to find commonality in our understanding of the
fact that we are living in one of the most complicated moments of transformation
and transition all across this planet. Instant communications, massive numbers
of mobile devices, massive amounts of information moving at lightning speed
around the globe, informing everybody about everything all of the time, and that
has changed politics, and it has changed international relations. It raises
expectations among people all over the world, and it challenges politics in
terms of building consensus around decisions.
So we face a lot of these challenges together in today's world, and that is
why it is so important to have the kind of discussion that we had here today,
where we lay out every one of those challenges and try to figure out how do we
do this better, how can we have greater impact, how do we bring more people to
the table in order to effect change. It has enabled both of our countries to
stand with the people of Ukraine, support long-term progress in Afghanistan,
reduce tensions in the South China Sea, collaborate in the United Nations
Security Council on everything from Iran to Syria to restricting trade in
illicit small arms and weapons and even in our fellow human beings.
Today's session allowed us to consult and coordinate in depth on these issues
and on the challenges that we face in Iraq and Gaza. We also agreed, in
conjunction with our discussion about the foreign fighters that Julie raised a
moment ago, that we are going to work together to assemble a compendium of the
best practices in the world today regarding those foreign fighters, and we
intend to join together in order to bring this to the United Nations meeting
next month and put it on the agenda in a way that will elicit support from
source countries as well as those countries of concern.
Earlier today, as you all know, we signed a Force Posture Agreement that will
further strengthen and deepen the US-Australian defence relationship, and we
agreed to expand our trilateral cooperation with Japan. So you can see that we
covered a range of very important issues in the Asia-Pacific region, including
our commitment to the peaceful denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The United States - I want to make this clear - is absolutely prepared to
improve relations with North Korea, if North Korea will honour its international
obligations. It's that simple. But make no mistake, we are also prepared to
increase pressure, including through strong sanctions and further isolation, if
North Korea chooses the path of confrontation.
So I join Secretary Hagel in thanking Foreign Minister Bishop and Defence
Minister Johnston for very productive discussions over the past day, and we all
look forward to continuing our work together in the years to come in order to
address these complex challenges.
CHUCK HAGEL: John, thank you. And I, too,
appreciate an opportunity to be with Secretary Kerry here for the AUSMIN
meetings that we are concluding this afternoon. I want to add my thanks as well
to our hosts, Minister Bishop, Minister Johnston, and also to Governor General
Cosgrove for his hospitality here at Admiralty House. So, thank you.
On a visit to the United States in 1960, the great Australian Prime Minister,
Robert Menzies, said that strength is admirable but only for the
responsibilities it accepts and discharges. America, Australia and this historic
alliance has always - always - sought to live up to those responsibilities
around the world. Today's agenda for the US-Australia alliance, as you have
heard, spanned issues ranging from the South China Sea to Iraq, where Secretary
Kerry and I expressed our appreciation for Australia's offer to contribute to
humanitarian relief operations, and where America is prepared to intensify its
security cooperation as Iraq undertakes and makes progress toward political
We also addressed the crisis in Ukraine, as has been noted, and Australia's
tragic loss of 38 citizens and residents aboard MH17. And, as I have said, as
Secretary Kerry has expressed our condolences to the people of Australia and
especially the families of those who were lost in that tragedy. America will
continue to work with Australia, as we have said clearly and plainly, to provide
requested support and assistance.
Today we have reinforced the foundation of our alliance's defence and
security cooperation by, as Secretary Kerry noted, signing the US-Australia
Force Posture Agreement. This long-term agreement on rotational deployment of US
marines in Darwin and American airmen in northern Australia will broaden and
deepen our alliance's contributions to regional security and advance America's
ongoing strategic rebalance of the Asia-Pacific.
At today's AUSMIN, having just come from New Delhi and having consulted
closely with our Japanese and Korean allies and ASEAN defence ministers, I see a
new committed resolve to work together, to work together to build a security
system across this Indo-Pacific region, recognising the independent sovereignty
of nations, respecting that sovereignty, but also recognising the common
interests that we all have for a stable, peaceful, secure world.
The US-Australia alliance is spurring this progress and will remain a bedrock
for a stable and secure order. Along with Secretary Kerry, let me again thank
our hosts, Minister Bishop, Minister Johnston and Governor-General Cosgrove, for
hosting this year's AUSMIN and what they continue to do as we continue to
collaborate and work together on some of the great issues of our time.
As Secretary Kerry has noted, we live in an immensely complicated world but a
world that is still full of hope and promise if we endeavour to bring resolute,
strong leadership, leadership that is committed to these virtues and values and
principles that we all share, and living up to the highest responsibilities, as
Prime Minister Menzies once said. Thank you very much.
JOURNALIST: Laura Jayes
from Sky News. Secretary Kerry, Secretary Hagel, thank you. Ministers, thank
you. I wanted to first go to Russia, and our Australian Government has talked
about greater sanctions on Russia, leaving that option open, uranium perhaps.
Secretary Kerry, is that a path you would like to see Australia go down? There's
also the question of Vladimir Putin attending the G20 Summit. I wondered if you
have a comment on that. And also as, I guess, a little bit out of that direct
realm - China in all of this. We've seen the US and EU impose quite strong
sanctions against Russia in the last couple of months, but China has, I think,
helped to dilute that in some ways. If you, Secretary Kerry, could address those
questions also. Minister Bishop as well.
JOHN KERRY: Well, thank
you very much. On the subject of sanctions with respect to Russia, we are very
understanding of our friend Australia's deep, deep anger and its need for
justice with respect to what has happened. This is an unconscionable crime on a
huge international order. The findings already, without the full investigation
being done - and we are pressing for a full investigation because nothing is
complete until you have a full investigation, but there is no question - and
we've said this publicly previously - that this type of weapon and all the
evidence of it was seen on our imagery.
We saw the take-off. We saw the trajectory. We saw the hit. We saw this
aeroplane disappear from a radar screen. So there's really no mystery about
where it came from and where these weapons have come from, but we need to have
the complete investigation, obviously, to legitimise whatever steps are going to
be taken as we go down the road, and that's why we're all pressing so hard for
The Foreign Minister of Australia travelled to New York and made an eloquent
plea, working with our ambassador and others there. Frans Timmermans, the Dutch
Foreign Minister, spoke eloquently about what had happened, and the world can't
just sort of move by this and gloss by it. People need to remember this because
holding people accountable is essential not just to justice for what happened
but to deterrence and prevention in the future, and we don't want to see these
kinds of things ever repeated again.
So we're open, but we haven't made any decisions. I'm not sure Australia has
either yet. We need to see what's happening. But our hope and prayer - our hope
is that in the next days and weeks, we could find a way for President Poroshenko
and Ukraine to be able to work with the Russians to provide the humanitarian
assistance necessary in the east, to facilitate the thoroughness of the
investigation, to begin to bring the separatists, to the degree that they are
Ukrainian, into the political process, and for those who are not Ukrainian, they
need to leave the country.
And there needs to be a process worked out where the supplies stop coming in,
both in money and arms and support and people, and Ukraine is allowed to begin
to protect its sovereignty and define its future. Our hope is that that can
happen through the diplomatic process, but we've all learned that we need to be
cautious and strong at the same time in our responses and clear about what is
acceptable and what is not acceptable.
With respect to the G20 Summit, no decisions have been made at this point in
time. I think a lot of the attitudes about that issue from the various countries
attending can, frankly, be determined and impacted to some degree in what
happens in these next days and weeks. And, finally, with respect to China and
what is going on, we have said again and again - we just had a strategic and
economic dialogue in China. Secretary Jack Lew of the Treasury and I were there.
We had two days of discussions, and we made it very clear with China that we
welcome the rise of China as a global partner, hopefully, as a powerful economy,
as a full, participating, constructive member of the international community.
And we want China to participate in constructive ways, whether it's in the
South China Sea or with respect to Japan and South Korea, with North Korea, with
other issues that we face. We are not seeking conflict and confrontation, and
our hope is that China will, likewise, take advantage of the opportunities that
are in front of it to be that cooperative partner. And so there are always
differences, shades - there are differences with respect to certain issues, and
we've agreed to try to find those things where we could really cooperate.
We're cooperating on Afghanistan. We're cooperating on non-proliferation with
respect to Iran. We've cooperated to get the chemical weapons out of Syria.
We're cooperating on counterterrorism. We're cooperating on nuclear weaponry and
on the reduction of nuclear arms. So there are plenty of big issues on which we
cooperate with Russia even now, every day, and our hope is that on those things
where we've obviously had some disagreements with China or with Russia, that we
can both find a diplomatic path forward, because everybody in the world
understands the world would be better off if great power nations are finding
ways to cooperate, not to confront each other.
JULIE BISHOP: If I could put
this question of sanctions in context, MH17 was a commercial aeroplane flying in
commercial airspace, carrying 298 civilians. Passenger numbers included 80
children. And this plane was shot down, we believe, by a surface-to-air missile
just inside eastern Ukraine. The deaths of so many people, including 38
Australian citizens and residents, was shocking, and the implications for
international aviation are profound.
So after completing our humanitarian mission of removing the remains and
personal effects from the crash site, we are now focused on the investigation
into how this came to be, how this plane was shot down and who did it, because
those culpable for creating the circumstances or for actually causing the
downing of this plane must be held to account, and the grief of our citizens
demands answers. They must be held to account, the perpetrators, and brought to
All the while, when Australian and Dutch teams, unarmed, police, humanitarian
teams, were seeking to get to the crash site - all the while, Russia was
supplying more armed personnel, more heavy weaponry over the border into eastern
Ukraine. They didn't cease; they, in fact, increased their efforts. And instead
of listening to international concerns about a ceasefire and the need for a
humanitarian corridor for us to conclude our work, on the very day that
Australia was holding a national day of mourning to grieve the loss of so many
Australian lives, Russia chose to impose sanctions on Australia through an
embargo on our agricultural exports.
We are rightly focused on the investigation, supporting the Netherlands,
Malaysia, Belgium and Ukraine as part of an investigation team, but on the
question of sanctions, we will consider the options available to us. But our
focus at present is to bring closure to the families who are still grieving over
this barbaric act of shooting down a plane that killed their loved ones.
As far as the G20 is concerned, as Secretary Kerry indicated there's been no
decision. The G20 is an economic forum. There would have to be a consensus view
as to whether or not steps should be taken in relation to President Putin's
presence here in Australia.
On China, I must say that China was extremely supportive of our resolution in
the United Nations Security Council. As you would be aware, it was unanimous
resolution. It was supported by all 15 members of the UN Security Council. And
China has suffered a great loss through the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines
flight MH370 and Australia has done what we can to help in that search effort
and I have committed to Prime Minister Wang Yi last weekend that Australia will
continue to help search for that missing plane. So China grieves with us over
the loss of people aboard airplanes that have crashed or disappeared in such
On the question of China's support beyond MH17, Russia's behaviour in recent
months has been to breach the sovereignty of Ukraine, a neighbour. And this is
not behaviour that China, one would think, would condone. It's behaviour that
China has pointed out to others would be unacceptable if it were to occur in
China's sphere of the world. So we will continue to consult, discuss, with China
the impact of the Russian/Ukrainian tensions, the conflict, the need for a
ceasefire, the need for humanitarian assistance, and hope that China sees it as
we do: an unacceptable breach of Ukraine's sovereignty and urge Russia to stop
the flow of weapons, stop the flow of armed personnel.
Russia claims to be concerned about a humanitarian situation in Ukraine.
Well, the first thing it should do is stop sending weapons and armed personnel
to the so-called separatists.
…[Inaudible] reporter with Bloomberg News. Questions on Iraq, first to Secretary
Hagel. What kind of direct military assistance is the Pentagon prepared to offer
the Kurds and does this include sending heavy weapons to them? And if I could
ask Secretary Kerry, could you talk a little bit more about what the United
States is prepared to do once there is a new Iraqi government.
And, both of you, do you share any concern that directly aiding and
supporting the Kurds will potentially encourage them to break away from a united
Iraq in future? And to the Australian officials, the US has said that it will
assist and train Iraqi troops to combat ISIL and have you been asked, and are
you prepared, to send any of your troops to train the Iraqi forces? Thank you.
CHUCK HAGEL: The United States Government
is working with the Iraqi Government - the Iraqi security forces to get military
equipment to the Peshmerga, that is, Iraqi military equipment. We - our American
forces through [inaudible] are helping get that equipment to Irbil.
As to your question regarding a breakaway status of the Kurds into an
independent Kurdistan, I think it's important - and we have taken this position.
And Secretary Kerry, who has been directly involved in this, may want to amplify
on this point but it's important to note that America's position is a unified
You all know that the Council of Representatives announced today that it had
selected a new Prime Minister - a new Shia Prime Minister. That then completes
the new senior officers that the Council of Representatives have put forth: a
new speaker of the Parliament, a new President, a new Prime Minister. That's
Now, the next step has to move forward and getting that government ratified
in place and we look forward to working with that new government.
DAVID JOHNSTON: Well - sorry.
JOHN KERRY: Please.
With respect to the Australian contribution to those people who are in the
mountains around Irbil, we are going to participate and deliver humanitarian
relief in the nature of being able to drop supplies to them. That is a skill and
capability we have long held probably since East Timor and that's the role that
we will carry out. We will fit into and be part of the planning of the United
States and other partners who want to assist in that - on that humanitarian
basis, and that's the way we will go forward. Sorry, John.
JOHN KERRY: No, no, no.
It's important and I appreciate it. Let me just begin by congratulating Dr
Haider al-Abadi on his nomination, which now offers him an opportunity to be
able to form a government over the next 30 days. And we urge him to form a new
cabinet as swiftly as possible and the US does stand ready to fully support a
new and inclusive Iraqi Government, particularly in its fight against ISIL.
Now, I'm not going to get into the details today before a new prime minister
is there and a government is there and we've talked to them and we know what
they think their needs are and how they define the road ahead. But I will tell
you that without any question, we are prepared to consider additional political,
economic and security options as Iraq starts to build a new government and very
much calculated to try to help stabilise the security situation, to expand
economic development and to strength the democratic institutions.
Those will be the guidelines. We also would note that there are already a
significant group of programs in place under the strategic framework agreement.
And we, with a new government in place, would absolutely look to provide
additional options. We would consider those options for sure in an effort to
Let me be very clear. We have always wanted an inclusive, participatory
government that represents the interests of Shia, Kurd, Sunni, minorities - all
Iraqis. That's the goal and our hope is that when there is a new government, we
will all of us in the international community be able to work with them in order
to guarantee that outstanding issues that have just stood there, absolutely
frozen for years now, like the oil revenue law or the constitutional reform -
all of these things need to be resolved and that will really determine the road
Now, with respect to the Kurds, we welcome increased coordination and support
between the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish forces. That is taking place
right now. It's quite unique and we think that's the signal of a growing
potential for cooperation between Baghdad and Irbil.
So, as we've said last week, ISIL has secured certain heavy weaponry and the
Kurds need additional arms. And what is happening now is through the government
in Baghdad, some of that assistance is being provided directly to the Kurds. I
think that raises as many questions about the possibility of greater cooperation
as it does with the possibility of further efforts for separation.
What I do know is from my own meetings with President Barzani recently, he is
very committed to this transition in Baghdad, in Iraq, in the government. He is
committed to trying to be a force for a strong federal government that works for
all Iraqis and that's the only subject on the table at this point in time.
Secretaries, Ministers, Greg Jennett from the Australian Broadcasting
Corporation. This is to any or all of you but perhaps starting with you,
Secretary Kerry. Following on from that question on Iraq and noting that you
don't want to get into details but stabilising security is an option that the US
is prepared to explore with the Government there, what are the circumstances in
which the US could look to allies, including Australia, to support security with
further military commitments?
If you could outline at least the parameters in which you would start that
conversation. And also on homecoming jihadists from the Middle East, what is the
shared approach? Practically, what sort of initiatives are we talking about? Is
this things before prosecution, after incarceration, before interrogation? Is
there any example of the types of actions you would like to see the world take
JOHN KERRY: Well, let me
let a couple of my colleagues - I will turn to Julie to address the issue on the
foreign fighters because we had a pretty robust discussion, and perhaps even
Minister Johnson and Hagel want to tackle that. So let me just answer the first
part of the question and they can answer the second. The question is how can we
look towards this issue of stabilisation and military assistance and you said,
where would the discussion begin? Well, let me tell you in the simplest terms
where the discussion begins. There will be no re-introduction of American combat
forces into Iraq. That is the beginning of the discussion.
This is a fight that Iraqis need to join on behalf of Iraq. And our hope is -
and the reason President Obama has been so clear about wanting to get the
government formation before beginning to tackle ISIL and in the most significant
way, excepting the kind of emergency circumstances that have arisen, is because
if you don't have a government that is inclusive and that works, nothing else
will work, plain and simply.
So you have to have a government that can begin to be inclusive where the
forces of Iraq are not a personal force defined by one particular sect and sworn
to allegiance to one particular leader but they truly represent Iraq and Iraq's
future in a broad-based sense. And I think that everybody understands that is
the direction that we have to go. Now, lots of countries who have an interest in
stability in the region have already offered different kinds of assistance of
one kind or another but nobody, I think, is looking towards a return to the road
that we have travelled.
What we are really looking for here is a way to support Iraq, support their
forces with either training or equipment or assistance of one kind or another
that can help them to stand on their own two feet and defend their nation.
That's the goal, that's where the conversation begins, whoever is the Prime
Minister, and I think everybody is crystal clear about that.
We are convinced that were there a unified effort by Iraqis and particularly
if there is a return to the kind of localised efforts that existed in the Sons
of Anbar or the Iraqi or the Anbar awakening as it's referred to, that there
will be plenty of opportunity here for a push back against ISIL forces, which is
why the restoration of a unified inclusive government is so critical as a
I think the President felt that that process was well enough along the way
with the selection of a Speaker, the selection of a President and the clear
movement of people towards a candidate for Prime Minister that he felt
comfortable that the urgency of the situation of protecting the potential people
moving towards Irbil or the extraordinary atrocities that were beginning to take
place with respect to the Yazidis, that it was critical to begin to move in that
regard and that's why he made that decision and I think it was a wise decision.
JULIE BISHOP: Australia has
long joined the international community in calling for a more inclusive
government in Iraq and the political instability that we have seen that hasn't
addressed the concerns of the Sunnis, hasn't addressed the concerns of
minorities is, of course, a matter of grave concern so political stability is
the key for Iraq in countering the influence and impact of these extremist
groups including ISIL and that brings me to the issue of foreign fighters.
The Australian media has, this week, published some truly shocking
photographs, I assume they have been verified, of an Australian family in the
Middle East holding up a severed head. A seven-year-old child is involved in
this barbarous display of ideology and they are Australian citizens. So when the
Government says that there is a real domestic security threat from the
phenomenon of foreign fighters, we have evidence that there are a significant
number of Australian citizens who are taking part in activities in Iraq and
parts of Syria - extremist activities, terrorist activities.
Our fear is that they will return home to Australia as hardened home-grown
terrorists and seek to continue their work here in Australia. And it's not a
concern just of this country. As I mentioned earlier, at the East Asia Summit a
number of countries raised this issue of foreign fighters leaving countries,
going to fight in these conflicts and coming home with a set of skills and
experience as terrorists that truly poses one of the most significant threats
that we have seen in a very long time.
Our discussion today focused on what we can do to counter this risk.
Australia, as the Australian media would be well aware, has announced a series
of legislative reforms that deal with matters including the burden of proof for
people's presence in proscribed areas like Mosul. Why Australian citizens would
be defying the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice to not go to Mosul
We are looking at issues involving passports and the cancellation, the
ability to suspend passports so that we can investigate the activities of people
within Australia and deal with them on their return. We know that one of the
Australian citizens involved in these activities in the Middle East in Iraq had
in fact been convicted of terrorist activities in Australia, had served time and
then left Australia under a false identity. We also know that in coming weeks
and months a significant number of those convicted of terrorist activities in
Indonesia will be released.
Now the question is, have they been de-radicalised in their time in prison?
Clearly in the case of the Australian citizen, not, and we hold similar fears
for those inmates leaving Indonesian jails. So the whole question of what we can
do when these people are detained and what we can do if they are prosecuted and
found guilty and spend time in jail, they are matters that we have to look at.
The whole question of reaching out to the communities in Australia and getting
communities to assist us in fighting this extremist threat is important.
So as we were discussing these issues, Secretary Kerry said this is something
we've got to bring to the attention of the international community. It's a
shared issue across Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Europe, in
Pakistan, in Great Britain, and Canada. There are a number of countries across
the globe reporting instances of citizens becoming extremist fighters in the
Middle East and so this idea of having a forum, a discussion, at - UNGA Leaders
Week is something that I believe will be well supported because so many
countries are facing this threat and if we can exchange ideas and practices and
suggestions as to how we can deal with it then I think we will have made a great
step forward and so we certainly will support the United States and work very
hard to ensure that we collectively deal with this growing threat to the
security of our nation.
JOHN KERRY: Could I add
one thing to that and I apologise but I just want to underscore - this image,
perhaps even an iconic photograph that Julie has just referred to, is really one
of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed of
a seven-year-old child holding a severed head up with pride and with the support
and encouragement of the parent with brothers there.
That child should be in school, that child should be out learning about a
future, that child should be playing with other kids, not holding a severed head
and out in the field of combat. This is utterly disgraceful and it underscores
the degree to which ISIL is, you know, so far beyond the pale with respect to
any standard by which we judge even terrorist groups that Al Qaeda shunted them
aside. And that's why they represent the threat that they represent. And it's no
accident that every country in the region is opposed to ISIL.
So this threat is so real, an African - the North African President of a
country recently told me that 1800 identified citizens of that country have gone
to Syria to fight. Believe it or not, 1100 of them they knew had already been
killed because their bodies have been returned or they were tallied as killed.
But that leaves seven or eight hundred out there that they fear are going to
return to that country knowing how to fix an IED, knowing how to arm weapons,
knowing how to explode a bomb, knowing how to build a suicide vest or something
And this ideology is without one redeeming quality of offering people a job
or health care or an education or anything other than saying: don't live any
other way but the way we tell you. So this is serious business, and we
understand that and I think the world is beginning to come to grips with the
fact, the degree to which this is unacceptable.
And we have a responsibility to take this to the United Nations and to the
world so that all countries involved take measures ahead of time to prevent the
return of these fighters and the chaos and havoc that could come with that. And
I just wanted to underscore that with Minister Bishop, because we're all joined
together in this effort, and that's why we're going to take it to the United
Nations in the Fall and try to get best practices put together by which all
countries can begin to act together in unison in order to react to it.
Wroughton from Reuters. Please excuse me if I don't stand up, I've got too much
equipment going here. Turning back to Iraq, you said that the US was prepared to
consider security, you know, political and economic options as Iraq forms its
new government. Can you get into more specifics about that? We've heard some
vague statements on how you are prepared to support. Does this include further
airstrikes, you know, to push back ISIS? You know, once the government comes in,
how do you secure that stability?
And then number two, on Ukraine, NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen said today
there's a high probability of a Russian intervention in Ukraine. What specific
steps, again, are you taking through diplomatic channels to address this? You
talked about your hopes in the next days and weeks that you could find a way for
President Poroshenko and Ukraine to be able to work with the Russians. Are you
talking about a new diplomatic effort here? And what are you talking about?
JOHN KERRY: Well, let me
make it clear with respect to Ukraine, diplomatic efforts have never ceased.
It's not a question of a new one; it's a question of ongoing diplomatic efforts.
We have never stopped. The President has not stopped, the Vice President,
myself, have all been in touch with top leadership in Ukraine, with leadership
of Russia and others.
The President of the United States talked to President Putin a few days ago.
I talked to Foreign Minister Lavrov just a couple of days ago. I talked to
President Poroshenko a few days ago. There are a lot of conversations taking
place. And even now as we stand here, there are efforts being made with our
friends, with Germany, with the Ukrainians, with Russia, with others to try to
see if there's a way to work out a way forward on the humanitarian delivery with
direct contact with the ICRC. There is direct contact with the Germans and
others in this effort.
And the hope is that through the meetings that will take place this week,
there is a way to find a means that is acceptable to deliver humanitarian
assistance without the guise of a military delivery in an effort to do so
against the will and wishes of the country where it is being delivered and
against the norms of the ICRC, the International Red Cross, and how it would
react to that.
So that's the effort that's underway now. It has been a consistent, continued
diplomatic effort to try to find a way forward. But obviously the humanitarian
assistance needs to get there, and there are a clear set of meetings scheduled
so there's a timeframe within which we think we're operating, which is why I
With respect to Iraq and the stability, I want - I think Chuck Hagel should
speak specifically to any of the security components of that, but I would just
say on the economic and political front, the best thing for stability in Iraq is
for an inclusive government to bring the disaffected parties to the table and
work with them in order to make sure there is the kind of sharing of power and
decision-making that people feel confident the government represents all of
And if that begins to happen, then there is a way for both investment, trade,
economic, other realities to help sustain and build that kind of stability. But
if you don't have the prerequisite, which President Obama identified at the
outset, of an inclusive working government, there's no chance for any of that.
That's why we think the steps taken: the selection of a speaker, the selection
of a President and now a Prime Minister designate who has an opportunity to be
able to form a government, are just essential prerequisites to this process of
providing stability. Do you want to talk to the security?
CHUCK HAGEL: I will just mention a couple
of things. One, as you know, it was the Iraqi Government that requested the US
Government's assistance with humanitarian delivery on Mount Sinjar, and we
complied with that request, agreed with that request, we're carrying out those
missions. It was also the Iraqi Government's request of the United States
Government to assist them in transferring, transporting military equipment to
Irbil to help the Peshmerga.
As Secretary Kerry noted and as President Obama has said, as a new government
begins, takes shape, we would consider further requests from that new
government. But I would just also re-emphasise what Secretary Kerry has already
noted, and President Obama has made this very clear. The future of Iraq will be
determined by the people of Iraq. It will not be determined by a military
solution. It will require a political solution, and I think Secretary Kerry's
comments about an inclusive, participatory, functioning government is critically
important to the future of Iraq. So we would wait and see what future requests
that this new government would ask of us and we would consider those based on
JULIE BISHOP: Just on Ukraine,
Australia welcomes the efforts of the United States to assist in preventative
diplomacy between Ukraine and Russia. As I made, I hope, very clear to Vice
Minister Morgulov in Naypyidaw over the weekend, yes, there is a humanitarian
situation in Ukraine that is serious and it’s likely to worsen. But if Russia
were concerned about the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the first step is to
stop the flow of fighters and weapons into eastern Ukraine. And the so-called
separatists are very professional, very well-armed, with the most sophisticated
of weaponry and equipment. So to cease that flow of personnel and weapons would
be a start.
I also hope I made very clear that any intervention by Russia into Ukraine
under the guise of a humanitarian crisis would be seen as the transparent
artifice that it is. And Australia would condemn in the strongest possible terms
any effort by Russia to enter Ukraine under the guise of carrying out some sort
of humanitarian mission. Clearly, that kind of support must come from donor
countries, from the UN, from the International Red Cross and that is our
I think that’s it – Brendan? Yes. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.
We will now depart and I just want to place on record again our thanks to
Secretaries Kerry and Hagel for taking part in this AUSMIN and we look forward
to seeing them next year.
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