More US air deployments under new alliance

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has held AUSMIN talks with US counterpart Lloyd Austin.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton has held AUSMIN talks with US counterpart Lloyd Austin.

Australia is open to boosting American troop rotations and increasing military plane visits as defence co-operation between the allies ramps up.

A historic pact to share nuclear-powered submarine technology - under the umbrella of a new alliance known as AUKUS - has been signed as Australian ministers held talks with counterparts in the United States.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday morning for the latest AUSMIN talks.

Mr Dutton said he aspired to increase troop rotations and other military co-operation between the two nations.

"The air capability will be enhanced, the maritime capability enhanced, and certainly the force posture enhanced," he told reporters in Washington.

"If that includes basing and includes the storage of different ordinances, I think that is in Australia's best interests, in our national interests at this point in time."

Mr Austin said increasing the number of US troops in Australia was an exciting opportunity.

"Today we endorsed major force posture initiatives that will expand our access and presence in Australia," he said.

The US has been rotating 2500 marines through Darwin under a 2011 agreement with the Gillard government.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison raised more co-operation with America as he prepares to travel to the US for talks with US President Joe Biden.

"We obviously continue to work on the ways we can work further together, not just in the land space but in the maritime and the air space as well," he told ABC radio on Friday.

"What we're talking about is exercises we do together, the way we work together in all of those domains.

"That has always been a feature of how we work together and we want to do that with more and more of our partners."

The White House will also host the first face-to-face meeting of the Quad partnership involving Australia, the US, India and Japan.

Mr Morrison said he did not expect Australia's strategy and stepping up of military spending to attract the ire of China through trade sanctions or other measures.

"It is not an uncommon thing for countries to take decisions in their own strategic interests and to build up their defence capabilities," he said.

The AUSMIN formal statement expressed concern over China's "expansive maritime claims in the South China Sea that are without legal basis", and stated their intention to strengthen ties with their "critical partner" Taiwan.

The Chinese embassy in Canberra said in response the US and Australia were making "unfounded accusations and erroneous remarks against China on issues related to the South China Sea, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other China-related issues".

with Reuters

Australian Associated Press