The following is attributable to Spokesperson Ned Price:
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken met today with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Melbourne to affirm the continued vitality of the U.S.-Australia alliance. They discussed the importance of the Quad in making tangible progress on the pressing challenges and opportunities facing the region as well as steps to advance implementation of the AUKUS trilateral partnership. They exchanged views on the challenges the People’s Republic of China and Russia pose to the rules-based international order, Australia’s readiness to support our European allies, increased efforts to combat COVID-19, and the importance of ambitious climate action in the next decade.
They noted ongoing efforts to deepen economic relations in the region and reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. The leaders discussed our partnerships throughout the Pacific Islands, including our shared determination to counter collective challenges, including COVID-19, climate change, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. The Secretary noted his upcoming travel to Fiji and engagement there with Pacific Island leaders. The Secretary and Foreign Minister reviewed our collective efforts to support the Kingdom of Tonga following the recent Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruptions, ashfall, and tsunami. They also recognized the resilience of the Tongan people in the face of this disaster.
The Secretary noted that he looks forward to returning to Australia this year for the 32nd Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) consultations.