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Austin Holds Trilateral Meetings With Indo-Pacific Allies

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By Jim Garamone

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Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III held several meetings with allies and partners at the Shangri-La Dialogue Saturday.

The meetings followed Austin’s major speech to the defense meeting detailing U.S. strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. That strategy is based on building partnerships and networks throughout the region. 

Austin’s meetings with fellow defense leaders are an integral part of that strategy allowing the United States to understand the concerns of other nations and examine ways to work more closely together. 

He held two trilateral meetings. The first was with the Defense Ministers Nobuo Kishi of Japan and South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup. “I think there was very strong alignment, strong agreement and concern about North Korea’s missile testing and pace of activity,” a senior defense official said on background. “This year, it is actually the most rapid pace of missile testing that we have ever seen from [the]North Korean missile program. The minister has also acknowledged concerns about possible preparations related to a (North Korean) nuclear test.” 

All three condemned North Korea’s behavior as dangerous, destabilizing and in violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and international law. “There was a very clear statement, in fact of the meeting itself but also in a discussion among ministers about the importance of trilateral solidarity as an important contribution to deterrence and to stability,” the official said.  

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The three resolved to take specific actions to further increase deterrence. They announced plans to engage in ballistic missile data sharing exercises and, also an agreement to engage in discussions about additional trilateral exercises as well as potential other responses, the official said.  

A second trilateral meeting was with new Australia Defense Minister Richard Marles and Japanese Minister Kishi.  

The official called these nations America’s “two most like-minded, most capable partners in the Indo-Pacific.” 

He said there was an “absolute high-degree of strategic alignment among all three nations.” 

The three nations converge on the security situation in the Indo-Pacific. “We see challenges to the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific in very much the same ways,” the official said. “We shared concerns specifically about China’s coercive behavior, both with respect to Taiwan, but also in the South and East China Seas. And we share that determination based on our common interests and common values, to take actions together to bolster deterrence security and stability in the Indo Pacific.” 

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DoD News publishes news from the US Defense Department.

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