Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says she expects US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and US Defence Secretary James Mattis to visit Australia next month for AUSMIN talks.
Ms Bishop told Lateline she expected them to arrive in mid-June for the Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations.
“We haven’t had one since 2015 because 2016 the election year in the United States we were not able to find a date that allowed all four of us, that is me as Foreign Minister, Marise Payne as Defence Minister and our counterparts, to meet,” she said.
The talks, also involving senior defence officials, provide an opportunity for Australia and the US to discuss global and regional security issues and improve defence cooperation.
Ms Bishop said Australia’s relationship with the US remained “deep and close”, despite reports of frayed relations between the intelligence services of the US and UK after a series of leaks from the Manchester bombing investigation.
“The British police said it’s not been helpful. That is an understatement,” she said.
“I don’t know how the leaks occurred and no doubt the US will investigate this as well, but it is very important in the fight against terrorism, in our attempts to counter terrorism for there to be close intelligence sharing, information sharing between like-minded nations.”
Ms Bishop said Australia would seek to maintain a close intelligence sharing relationship with the United states.
“We get far more information from the United States than we are able to impart to them,” she said.
Tensions in the South China Sea are likely to be a topic of discussion at AUSMIN and earlier on Wednesday, it was reported that a US Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the area.
Ms Bishop said the US is entitled to carry out such freedom of navigation exercises.
“All nations must abide by the international rules … and the United States is within its entitlement to do so and I must say most nations in the region support the United States’ actions,” she said.
Source: ABC News