US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to visit Australia to forge closer military ties with Australia to counter China.
November 12, 2012
US SECRETARY of State Hillary Clinton will arrive in Perth today to cement closer defence ties with Australia to counter China's growing military might.
Mrs Clinton, who is tipped to become the first woman nominated for the US presidency in 2016, after she retires as chief diplomat, will arrive in the west to join US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta for the annual AUSMIN talks with Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Defence Minister Stephen Smith. She also will meet Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
From late tomorrow until Friday morning, there will be security restrictions when she visits various Adelaide defence facilities.
It is expected to be Mrs Clinton's last trip Down Under in her present role, as she has previously said she would not be interested in a second term as Secretary of State should President Barack Obama be re-elected.
High on the AUSMIN agenda will be the rapid growth of China's military power and the new leader in Beijing as well as greater access for US forces to Australian bases.
It is understood that formal plans will be presented allowing US war planes more access to RAAF bases at Tindal, near Katherine, and Darwin, as well as the Delamere air weapons range south of Tindal.
The program for increasing US Marine numbers into Darwin from 250 this year to 2500 will also be discussed, along with the longer-term issue of increased US warship access to Fleet Base West at HMAS Stirling, south of Perth.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith described the US alliance as the "bedrock" of Australia's security arrangements and said China and India would be the key drivers of security policy in the future.
"I continue to make the point that everyone sees the rise of China, but the rise of India and the importance of the Indian Ocean rim and the Indian Ocean strategically continues to be under-appreciated. And HMAS Stirling, as our Indian Ocean port, will continue to grow in significance," Mr Smith said.
Defence spending will not be on the AUSMIN agenda after Mr Smith and US ambassador Jeffery Bleich said there were no concerns on either side about the large budget cuts being imposed on both forces.
Protesters pushing for tighter arms trade rules are expected to be joined by anti-war activists outside the talks.
Members of Amnesty International, Oxfam and the Medical Association for Prevention of War will lie on a carpet of red fabric surrounded by tombstones to symbolise lives lost to the arms trade.