WASHINGTON: On Friday, acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific affairs, David Helvey has confirmed that Austin made the call to highlight the importance and the strength of the U.S.-Australia Alliance, often called “the Unbreakable Alliance.”
Helvey also mentioned that Austin thanked Payne, who also serves temporarily as Australia’s defense minister, for Australia’s support in Afghanistan and in the Middle East as part of the Defeat-ISIS campaign. He also praised Australia for the increased investment and involvement in building capacity and capabilities in Indo-Pacific nations, the statement mentioned.
Regarding Indo-Pacific, Helvey said Australia is a leading voice in the Indo-Pacific region.
Moreover, the press statement also mentioned that Austin also spoke with Payne about the quadrilateral process, adding that the leaders of Australia, India, Japan and the United States called the Quad held a virtual meeting March 12 that discussed the happenings in the Indo-Pacific.
While there is a security consulting part to the Quad, it is not a formal treaty. Rather it is a way for like-minded nations to work together, Helvey said.
Mentioning more details, the statement stated that Austin shared some of his thoughts and reflections on his talks with Japanese and South Korean foreign affairs and defense leaders during his meetings in Tokyo and Seoul.
“It was a good exchange,” Helvey said. “And there’s a lot of commonality of views and assessments between the United States and Australia on regional security challenges like China and North Korea,” he added.
The two leaders committed to stay in touch, and to strengthen the U.S.-Australia Treaty. The defense officials want to increase the linkages among like-minded nations throughout the region in support of common objectives and support the rules-based international order.