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Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations Joint Communique 2002

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1. The United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Defence, Robert Hill, met in Washington on October 29, 2002 to discuss regional and global challenges. The meeting came at a time when the bilateral security alliance has never been stronger.

Global War on Terrorism

2. The terrorist attacks on the United States on 11 September 2001 were viewed by both the United States and Australia as an abhorrent assault on the core values of democracy and freedom, which both nations hold dear and have fought to defend. The common cause and shared values reflected in the ANZUS Treaty underpinned agreement by Australia and the United States to invoke - for the first time in its fifty year history - the mutual security provisions of the Treaty.

3. The terrorist bombings committed in Bali, Indonesia on 12 October 2002 clearly demonstrated the need for continued steadfastness and resolve in the Global War on Terrorism. The United States and Australia condemned this repugnant act of violence. They expressed their strongest resolve to hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. They committed to work with the Government of Indonesia to find those responsible and more broadly to combat the threat of terrorism. Recognizing that no country can be immune to terrorism, Australia and the United States called upon all governments to adopt stringent measures to end all forms of terrorism and to deny to terrorists the means to conduct their insidious activities.

4. The United States and Australia reaffirmed their undiminished support for the Global War on Terrorism, and in particular the effort to bring peace, stability and democracy to Afghanistan and end its status as a haven for terrorists. Both sides welcomed their deep bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism measures, including in the areas of diplomacy, law enforcement, customs, financial controls and intelligence. In particular, they strongly reconfirmed their willingness to coordinate efforts to assist countries in the Asia-Pacific region with counter-terrorism measures, including with capacity building, training and cooperation.

The New Global Security Environment

5. The United States and Australia agreed that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery, including ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, posed the most significant threat to global strategic stability. In particular, the United States and Australia agreed that the potential for terrorist groups to gain possession of WMD and missiles underlined the urgency of preventing their proliferation. They agreed to strengthen their efforts in this area, including through increased bilateral coordination, assistance to transshipment states, the development of ad hoc coalitions where appropriate, and the strengthening of both plurilateral export control regimes and relevant multilateral instruments.

Both countries agreed that maintaining effective deterrence required offensive and defensive measures, in parallel with effective counter-proliferation measures and nuclear arms reductions. The United States restated its commitment to continued close consultations with Australia on U.S. missile defense plans. Australia reaffirmed its strong commitment to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the treaty's verification system. The United States confirmed that it would maintain its moratorium on nuclear testing and would continue to support establishment of the International Monitoring System to help detect possible nuclear tests.

The United States and Australia called on all states to refrain from conducting nuclear explosive tests and to maintain existing moratoriums.

6. The United States and Australia restated their firm commitment to work closely together to ensure that Iraq complies unconditionally with the terms of all United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the elimination of all Iraqi nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, cessation of any further efforts by Iraq to develop such weapons, elimination of Iraq's prohibited ballistic missile programs and cessation of firing at coalition aircraft.

Regional Challenges and Opportunities

7. The United States and Australia recognized the significant contribution made by bilateral alliance relationships and multilateral security arrangements to maintaining security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. They agreed to strengthen cooperation in the region to address terrorist threats. Both countries welcomed APEC's initiatives on counter-terrorism, including the statements made by APEC leaders at their recent meeting in Los Cabos, Mexico. They also welcomed the development with key regional countries of bilateral arrangements directed at fighting terrorism. They further welcomed the work of the ASEAN Regional Forum in enhancing regional security dialogue, and on counter-terrorism, confidence-building measures and developing a preventive diplomacy role. Both countries viewed positively the inaugural Shangri-la Defence Ministers' Dialogue held in Singapore in June 2002 and welcomed continuation of the Dialogue, noting its potential to add a useful new dimension to security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region.

8. The United States and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to work closely with the countries of South East Asia to enhance the stability, security and prosperity of that region. Both governments reaffirmed the importance of regional forums, including APEC, for encouraging economic growth and development.

9. The United States and Australia welcomed Japan's continuing economic reform efforts and its increasing contribution to regional and global security. They welcomed China's more active participation in global institutions. The two governments urged a peaceful resolution of the differences between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan and reaffirmed that the use of military force to settle those differences would be unacceptable.

10. Both governments called on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to verifiably and immediately dismantle all nuclear weapons programs. They underlined that if the DPRK took this step, it would stand to benefit in many ways, including through peaceful relations with its neighbours and greater participation in the international community. They further urged the DPRK to halt its missile programs and foreign sales of missile technology and reduce its threatening conventional military posture.

11. The United States and Australia expressed appreciation for the contributions of India and Pakistan to the Global War on Terrorism. They called on India and Pakistan to take steps to further reduce the prospect of a nuclear arms race on the sub-continent and the risk of a nuclear exchange, and urged India and Pakistan to resume dialogue as soon as possible to resolve outstanding issues, including Kashmir.

Defense Relations

12. The two governments reaffirmed the importance of strategic engagement by the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and the alliance's contribution to regional security. Both countries agreed that the benefits of defense cooperation under the alliance were clearly demonstrated through an outstanding level of practical cooperation on Afghanistan, including in the areas of combined military operations and intelligence exchange. Both countries looked forward to an improved capacity to operate together as a consequence of the results of the ongoing Interoperability Review, the agreement on the Joint Strike Fighter, and cooperation on the development of other major capability enhancements. Both countries place a high priority on further improving interoperability between their defense forces. They agreed to strengthen cooperation in strategic planning, capability planning and development of new concepts and technologies. A future review will recommend measures to enhance the ability of the defense forces to work effectively together in combined and coalition operations. This will be addressed at AUSMIN 2003.

Trade

13. The United States and Australia agreed that deeper economic ties between both countries would complement their partnership on global and Asia-Pacific trade and would strengthen the foundations of the alliance. Both countries agreed that they should continue working through the issues that will lay the foundation for a US-Australia Free Trade Agreement that would be a concrete expression of, and would serve to promote, mutual economic interests and common values.

Conclusion

14. Australia will host the next round of AUSMIN consultations in Australia in 2003.

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