Washington: The United States and Australia have agreed to strengthen its co-operation with New Delhi through actions to improve their ability to address real-life challenges in the areas of maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster operations.
The pledge to strengthen their co-operation with India figured prominently in joint ministerial communique issued at the conclusion of the 28th annual meeting of their foreign and defence minister in Washington yesterday.
While the US delegation was led by the Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel; the Australian delegation was led by its Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister David Johnston.
"The United States and Australia recognise India`s place as a regional strategic and economic power, and will continue to work with India on areas of mutual interest, including the transition of Afghanistan toward greater stability and prosperity, and the development of a more integrated trade corridor from Central Asia through to Southeast Asia," the joint communique said.
"They agree to strengthen cooperation with India through actions to improve their ability to address real-life challenges in the areas of maritime security, humanitarian assistance, and disaster operations," the statement said.
Emphasising the importance of freedom of navigation through the Indian Ocean and asserting that they will continue their cooperation on counter-piracy in the Indian Ocean Rim, the joint communique said: "The United States and Australia will seek closer cooperation with India in global economic fora such as the G-20 on areas of mutual interest, such as infrastructure financing."
They encourage Burma to advance its candidacy for the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and will work together to promote responsible investment in Burma.
Describing Australia as a vital partner, Kerry told a joint news conference that the two countries are growing closer and closer to finalising the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
In their joint communique, the US and Australia reaffirm their commitment to work with China to support the region`s economic growth while encouraging Beijing to provide a level playing field for trade and investment and to abide by the rules of the international economic system.
"The United States and Australia affirm they will continue to enhance trust and confidence through dialogue with China on strategic security issues and will encourage China to play a responsible and constructive role in support of regional stability and prosperity, including through adherence to international law. They are dedicated to working with China to secure progress on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms," the statement said.
According to the statement, the United States and Australia encourage ASEAN countries and China to reach agreement on a substantive and meaningful Code of Conduct in the South China Sea as soon as possible.
"They support measures to reduce tensions and to prevent or manage miscalculations or accidents in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, including by improving maritime communications," it said.