Australia announced plans to rotate more US troops on its soil and that it would cooperate with Washington on developing missiles.
Australia earlier announced a three-way alliance with the United States and Britain in which Canberra will acquire nuclear-powered submarines, enraging France whose own key contract for conventional submarines was scrapped.
Furthermore, Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton said he would visit the US and Australia will be “significantly enhancing” cooperation including working together on the development of missiles and explosive ordnance.
He said Canberra was willing to see more US Marines in a 10-year rotation through the northern city of Darwin.
“I do have an aspiration to make sure that we can increase the numbers of troops through the rotations,” Dutton said.
“The air capability will be enhanced, our maritime capability enhanced and certainly the force posture enhanced.”
Dutton also pointed to Indonesia, Vietnam and South Korea as partners for Australia in the region.
“They understand the values that we adhere to and that we’ve been consistently adhered to for a long period of time,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier had said that Australia would acquire long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed that the United States “will expand our access and presence in Australia.” No numbers were given.
Austin said the two allies discussed concerns about China in the four-way meeting involving Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Marise Payne.
“While we seek a constructive, results-oriented relationship with the PRC, we will remain clear-eyed in our view of Beijing’s efforts to undermine the established international order,” Austin said.
China has voiced anger about the nuclear submarine deal, which comes as Australia faces growing commercial and diplomatic pressure from the Asian power, a chief destination for its food and energy exports.
“Beijing has seen over the past months that Australia will not back down and the threats of economic retaliation and pressure simply will not work,” Blinken said.
“The United States will not leave Australia alone on the field or, better yet, on the pitch,” he said, using sporting metaphors.
In 2021, approximately 2,200 US Marines were scheduled to come through Darwin, but that number is likely to increase.
In another sign to China, Morrison will head to Washington for a first in-person four-way summit with Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
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