Remarks – John Kerry, Secretary of State – Washington, DC – January 21, 2015
SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. A few months ago, I had the privilege of being in Australia, where I was hosted by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and the defense minister. Secretary Hagel was with me, and we joined in the Joint Strategic Dialogue between our countries. Apart from being in one of the most extraordinary cities in the world, Sydney, and enjoying that, we had one of the most productive sessions that I’ve had as Secretary of State. And our partnership at every single level simply could not be functioning more effectively, more comfortably, more easily. We are aligned on issue after issue.
And I’m very grateful to Australia for their significant work in Iraq. They are a prominent – one of the most prominent and important members of the effort to deal with Daesh. And long before the events took place with the terrorist incident in Sydney, they have understood this challenge, and they’ve been there. Likewise, with respect to the effort to help Iraq to fight back, to train their forces that are engaged on the ground, they’re deeply committed with us to Middle East efforts, and significantly, a partner in the Ebola crisis.
So I’m very, very grateful. President Obama and the American people could not be more grateful for the very significant relationship we have with Australia. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: Thank you, Secretary Kerry, and I’m delighted to be back here in Washington and to meet again with senior representatives from the White House, to meet again with my friend Secretary Kerry, and also with, particularly, members of the intelligence community here in the United States, because we of course share common values. We invariably have a common world view. Together we are taking the lead in the fight against terrorism, specifically in Iraq. And I appreciate the opportunity, John, to discuss with you what we’re doing in Iraq. Australia has decided that it is very much in our national interest for us to be working with the Iraqi Government in Iraq, in cooperation with the United States, to see if we can defeat ISIL in Iraq where it’s claiming territory, where it’s brutalizing citizens. And we’re there to support the Iraqi Government take back that territory and secure the nation for its own people.
We’re also very involved in the whole issue of defeating this foreign fighter phenomenon, and I look forward to working more closely with you on that issue as we look at it from every possible angle. It is, in our view, the largest, most significant national security threat that Australia faces at present. At last count, about 180 Australians are reported to be supporting ISIL or Daesh, either in Australia or over in Iraq and Syria. And so we’re absolutely committed to working with you and other international partners.
On the Ebola crisis, I want to pay tribute to the United States for again taking the lead on what could have become a global issue. And the work that you have done in Liberia and the assistance that we’re providing in Sierra Leone is enabling us to see some hope that this disease will be stopped in its tracks. And the work that you’ve done and the leadership role that the United States has shown yet again reminds us of why the United States is the indispensable power in not only our part of the world but globally.
So I look forward to inviting you back to Australia again and —
SECRETARY KERRY: I look forward to accepting. (Laughter.)
FOREIGN MINISTER BISHOP: — certainly spending some time here later this year when we have our next AUSMIN meeting when the Secretaries of State and Defense meet with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense from Australia.
SECRETARY KERRY: You got it. Thank you. Thanks, Julie. Appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you all.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of State