By DoD News
By Jim Garamone
Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles, who also serves as defense minister, arrived at the Pentagon Monday for defense discussions as part of the defense ministers’ meeting, which will conclude tomorrow at the U.S. State Department. On Wednesday, Marles and Austin will be joined by U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace as the three leaders discuss the Australia, United Kingdom, United States security pact.
“Today, we’re focused on ambitious steps to further strengthen our unbreakable alliance,” Austin said to Marles at the beginning of the meeting.
He noted that Australia and the United States are closely aligned on most important strategic challenges and opportunities. “In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the alliance between [the] United States and Australia is stronger than it’s ever been, and it remains vital to regional security,” the secretary said.
Austin said the meetings come at a tense time with Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful invasion of Ukraine continuing and “coercive and destabilizing military activities by the People’s Republic of China,” he said.
The defense leaders will discuss a range of issues including deepening bilateral security cooperation. They will also speak of the growing trilateral cooperation with Japan. Finally, they will discuss on-going cooperation with India through the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue that encompasses the U.S., Australia, Japan and India.
Before coming to the Pentagon, Marles visited submarine builder Electric Boat, where he viewed the complexity of building nuclear-powered submarines. The two leaders last met during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus in Cambodia 10 days ago.
Even with that, the U.S.-Australian alliance is as strong as it has ever been, he said. “We feel there is a very strong alignment between our two governments right now,” Marles said. “We’re really looking forward to an ambitious agenda.”