Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held a news conference with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd in Melbourne, Australia, on November 6. The Secretary and Foreign Minister marked the 70th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations between the United States and Australia. Secretary Clinton and Australian Foreign Minister Rudd discussed the role of regional institutions, the Australia-United States Ministerial, efforts to reduce violence against women and girls throughout the Pacific region, as well as efforts to reduce hunger and improve food security.
Secretary Clinton said, "On behalf of the United States, we deeply value and respect that friendship and the many contributions that Australia has made and is making and will make to the pursuit of common goals and values that are really at the core of that enduring friendship.
"As the foreign minister noted in his opening remarks, this marks the 70th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations. Our relationship continues to be a strategic anchor of security and prosperity in this region and beyond and our countries are working very closely together. The Melbourne Statement reflects that level of cooperation and it touches on the many areas where we are involved together.
"One critical issue is the role of regional institutions. The foreign minister has been a consistent advocate and a leading voice for strengthening the regional architecture in the Asia Pacific, including the United States engagement in the East Asia Summit, ASEAN, and other institutions. And I want to thank him publicly here in Australia for doing a lot of the most important thinking about how the Asia Pacific region needs to be organized and the role that the United States must play in that going forward.
"The foreign minister is also very knowledgeable about China and he has been extremely helpful to the United States in our efforts to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship with China as it rises on the global stage. Tomorrow I will meet with the prime minister to discuss a range of issues, including our joint efforts on nuclear nonproliferation, human rights, and so much else.
"I will also be looking forward to speaking at the university about how the United States and Australia can build on and adapt our alliance to the 21st century. On Monday, the foreign minister and I will participate in the Australia-United States Ministerial, the so-called AUSMIN. Together with my colleague, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith. There we will discuss a full range of issues, including joint efforts in Afghanistan, cyber security, counter terrorism, the peaceful use of outer space, and again, so much more.
"We are also working together to fight poverty and spur development in countries nearby here in this region and beyond. Along with defense and diplomacy, development is the third pillar of America's foreign policy. We call them the three Ds. And I particularly appreciate the foreign minister's commitments on development that he just referenced.
"And I especially welcome Australia's partnership in reducing violence against women and girls in the Pacific region and beyond. When women are not protected, it undermines families, communities, and even nations. It also means they are more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. High rates of gender-based violence can contribute to the high rates of HIV among women. That's why next year the United States will double our funding to fight HIV/AIDS in Papua New Guinea to $5 million.
"In addition, we are working together to reduce hunger and improve food security. We are stepping up efforts to develop new strains of rice that will yield more food with less water and perform better in heat and drought. We will continue to support the International Rice Research Institute and other programs to help sustain Asia's food production in the face of growing population and climate change. This work is just one outcome of the commitment our two development agencies made this summer to extend our cooperation. And so I want to commend Australia on its recent decision to contribute $50 million to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. It will have a concrete set of benefits for people in need. Just this week that program announced a new round of grants that will help small holder farmers in Ethiopia, Niger, and Mongolia grow more food and increase their incomes.
"Now, all of these projects are evidence of the generosity and drive for results that our two countries share. We want to make sure that our efforts actually help people improve their lives in concrete ways. And as we build on our decades-long friendship and alliance, I am confident that we will be able to do far more together than either of us could do alone."
You can read the Secretary's complete remarks here.