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SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Kevin, and it is a great treat for me to be here in Melbourne, my first visit to this city. And I appreciate greatly your very gracious words about the longstanding friendship between our two countries. On behalf of the United States, we deeply value and respect that friendship and the many contributions that Australia has made and is making and will make to the pursuit of common goals and values that are really at the core of that enduring friendship.
As the foreign minister noted in his opening remarks, this marks the 70th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations. Our relationship continues to be a strategic anchor of security and prosperity in this region and beyond and our countries are working very closely together. The Melbourne Statement reflects that level of cooperation and it touches on the many areas where we are involved together.
One critical issue is the role of regional institutions. The foreign minister has been a consistent advocate and a leading voice for strengthening the regional architecture in the Asia Pacific, including the United States engagement in the East Asia Summit, ASEAN, and other institutions. And I want to thank him publicly here in Australia for doing a lot of the most important thinking about how the Asia Pacific region needs to be organized and the role that the United States must play in that going forward.
The foreign minister is also very knowledgeable about China and he has been extremely helpful to the United States in our efforts to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China as it rises on the global stage. Tomorrow I will meet with the prime minister to discuss a range of issues, including our joint efforts on nuclear nonproliferation, human rights, and so much else.
I will also be looking forward to speaking at the university about how the United States and Australia can build on and adapt our alliance to the 21st century. On Monday, the foreign minister and I will participate in the Australia-United States Ministerial, the so-called AUSMIN. Together with my colleague, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith. There we will discuss a full range of issues, including joint efforts in Afghanistan, cyber security, counter terrorism, the peaceful use of outer space, and again, so much more.
We are also working together to fight poverty and spur development in countries nearby here in this region and beyond. Along with defense and diplomacy, development is the third pillar of America's foreign policy. We call them the three Ds. And I particularly appreciate the foreign minister's commitments on development that he just referenced.
And I especially welcome Australia's partnership in reducing violence against women and girls in the Pacific region and beyond. When women are not protected, it undermines families, communities, and even nations. It also means they are more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. High rates of gender-based violence can contribute to the high rates of HIV among women. That's why next year the United States will double our funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea to $5 million.
In addition, we are working together to reduce hunger and improve food security. We are stepping up efforts to develop new strains of rice that will yield more food with less water and perform better in heat and drought. We will continue to support the International Rice Research Institute and other programs to help sustain Asia's food production in the face of growing population and climate change. This work is just one outcome of the commitment our two development agencies made this summer to extend our cooperation. And so I want to commend Australia on its recent decision to contribute $50 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. It will have a concrete set of benefits for people in need. Just this week that program announced a new round of grants that will help small holder farmers in Ethiopia, Niger, and Mongolia grow more food and increase their incomes.
Now, all of these projects are evidence of the generosity and drive for results that our two countries share. We want to make sure that our efforts actually help people improve their lives in concrete ways. And as we build on our decades-long friendship and alliance, I am confident that we will be able to do far more together than either of us could do alone.
So again, (inaudible) Minister Rudd, thank you for your partnership and friendship and I look forward to a very productive visit.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: Okay, folks. Now, some questions. Can I put to you to begin with?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Rudd. Secretary, I wonder if can address my questions to you. With regards to AUSMIN -- and there are several parts to this question -- is it already a done deal that we see a major escalation in military cooperation between the two countries? That's what it was referred to in the newspaper today. What will that look like, do you see? And do these discussions include a multi (inaudible) with U.S. (inaudible) in Exmouth in Western Australia? Will that be on the table at AUSMIN?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying that the United States and Australia have cooperated closely in military and defense matters for many years, really since the beginning of our diplomatic relations and we have a long history of setting forth missions and goals that we then consult and agree upon the appropriate ways to proceed. I think it's going to be an issue of discussion at AUSMIN about the cooperation going forward on a range of matters, as I said, including space, cyber security, and so much else.
The United States is engaged in this process from both the foreign ministry and the defense ministry perspective, but I am not going to prejudge the outcome of our discussions which are truly ongoing. AUSMIN represents a point on a spectrum, because these conversations never stop about what is needed. But certainly if you look at the Asia Pacific region right now and a lot of the small island nations that Australia plays such a role in working with, there are needs for more disaster preparedness and response that we believe the United States and Australia are particularly well suited to work through together and then with other partners.
So this is an ongoing conversation that's been going on for years and it includes all of the potential opportunities for working together. Maybe Kevin would like to add something.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: Well, the Secretary is right. We've been talking about our defense cooperation with each other and wider security policy cooperation literally for decades. It's an ongoing process. It's nothing particularly remarkable and that occurs at this AUSMIN on that front. But the second point is that we in Australia, as I've said many times before, welcome the U.S. making a greater use of our ports, of our facilities, of training facilities, of our test firing ranges. That's what alliances are all about. And that's been the case for decades past; it will be the case for decades in the future.
The U.S., of course, is engaged in its own analysis of its own future force posture. We will input to that over time. That's the right thing to do as an ally and a friend and our American friends have been keen to hear our views on that. But this is, as the Secretary just said, an ongoing dialogue between us, a dialogue which occurs in an atmosphere of friendship and trust built up over a long, long time. Now, could I have a question from one of our friends from the American press?
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, you made reference in your opening statement to Prime Minister (inaudible) on China. What more do you think Australia can do to try to (inaudible) affording more rules-based and less aggressive stance towards its neighbors. And also on China, you said toward the beginning of your trip that he (inaudible) all countries needed to develop diversified supplies of rare earth minerals. Australia is well known for its mining companies (inaudible). Is there anything the two governments could do to try to promote that kind of investment or should that just be (inaudible) free market.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Arshad, those are two very good and very important questions. I am looking forward to discussing at length over the next two close days with the foreign minister his assessment of China's current thinking. He just returned from yet another visit to China.
We obviously share the view that we want to see China's rise be successful, bringing benefits to the Chinese people, but to take on greater responsibility and a rules-based approach toward all of its neighbors. We are discussing that within ASEAN and the ASEAN regional forum, as you know, when it comes to maritime security and freedom of navigation. And I look forward to hearing from the foreign minister the reflections he has and the recommendations that he will make to us.
I think one area where we do need to discuss in depth is the supply of rare-earth minerals throughout the world. The slow-down, or the potential of the supply coming from China, which is about 97 percent of the currently available supply of rare-earth minerals, raised questions in many of our minds that it is not -- whether it is China or anyone else -- wise to be so dependent upon a single source for elements that are critical to many of the most advanced civilian and military technology that countries like Australia and the United States produce and utilize.
Australia already does produce such elements, and I am aware that the United States also has the potential for producing more, as do other nations. And I am sure that we will discuss, in the context of AUSMIN, since it does have direct military and defense pertinence, how best we can work together to ensure that there is a broad-based global supply of these critical minerals.
QUESTION: Obviously (inaudible), but is there anything you're planning to do or see (inaudible) here in Melbourne? And perhaps you can tell (inaudible).
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: And you're from a Melbourne newspaper, are you? That's right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Only a fair question. Now, you might recall that when Kevin visited me last in Washington, he promised that we would have some fun in Melbourne. So I am very much looking forward to that. I have long wanted to visit this city because, looking around this room, I am probably one of -- if not the -- longest standing living person here.
And I remember well watching the Olympics in 1956 from Melbourne. It was my first time that I was consciously aware of this magnificent quadrennial sporting event and, even as a little girl, was entranced by the beauty of this city and, obviously, I know its well-deserved reputation as the sporting capital of Australia.
I can say that the President is a very big sports fan, as well as quite active athlete. So I have no announcements to make, but I am going to be sure to brief him on the many enticing and interesting attributes of Melbourne.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: And we Australians honor our word. So we said we would offer the Secretary a good time in Melbourne. And between myself and Stephen Smith and the prime minister, I am sure we will.
By the way, we pointed out from the hotel window the MCG, where the 1956 Olympics were held, and (inaudible) our American friends again.
QUESTION: If I could just interrupt --
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: Yes, sure.
QUESTION: Given the enormous strains on the U.S. budget, and the enormous military operation in Afghanistan and Iraq, do you think the United States can continue to have the kind of military presence in the Asian Pacific region that you would like, in light of (inaudible)? And perhaps you're mentioning offering U.S. more bases and facilities to ease those pressures.
FOREIGN MINISTER RUDD: The short answer to the first part of your question is yes. And I say that, based on the strength and depth and breadth of this security relationship, which has gone on for decades and decades. As I said, partly in response to an earlier question, we are not simply dealing with something new today. Our security circumstances since 1951 are being constantly evolving. And each generation of leaders who have had custodianship of this alliance have adjusted it to contemporary circumstances. And that is our mission statement for the future, as well.
Secondly, I fully understand that running such formidable military assets as the United States has worldwide is a cost to the U.S. taxpayer. It costs a lot of money. And I understand that because in government we have had to frame our own defense budgets, and nothing comes cheap. I understand that really well. But what I also know is America is a global power. And America, across the world, remains and continues to be an overwhelming force for good in the world.
What does that mean in practice? One of the things it means in practice is being a force for the continuing strategic stability of our world and our region here, in particular. That hangs off the presence of so many men and women in uniform, the United States armed forces. So, therefore, we will discuss the detail, in terms of U.S. force posture review, and what our American friends have in mind, and our own interests in that connection. But I am confident we will always end up with a good landing point, as we have in the past. And I believe that will be to the benefit of both of our national security interests.
The second part of your question, which goes to greater use of Australian facilities, as I said before, it's been our historical approach, through our joint facilities, our ports, our training facilities, our test firing ranges, to make them available to our American friends. That's the framework we apply for the future, as well.
One last point, though, on that. The Secretary before referred to the three D's of the State Department: defense, diplomacy, and development. She is absolutely right in that conceptual framework. And, beyond defense, our common diplomacy in this region is really important. And working together on emerging institutions, like the East Asian Summit, working with our Chinese friends, working with our friends from India, from Japan, from the Republic of Korea, from Indonesia, this is very important in shaping the sort of rules-based order and habits of cooperation and predictability of behavior within the Asian Pacific region that is in our common interests to underpin our stability and our security for this new century. It's been guaranteed so much in the past by the strategic presence of the United States, and that is always the underpinning factor.
(Inaudible) diplomacy, getting the rules right within the neighborhood for the future is also important. And we are working very closely diplomatically, not just with the U.S. on that, but with our friends and partners right across the region.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attention this afternoon. And we look forward to the next few days together with Secretary Clinton, and seeing some of the delights and sights and sounds of the great city of Melbourne.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all.