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  • Writer's pictureOlga Nesterova

Defense Secretary Austin's Hawaii Summit with Japan, Australia, and the Philippines

Secretary Lloyd Austin by GETTY IMAGES
GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III embarks on a significant journey this week, heading to Hawaii to preside over the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command change of command ceremony.

Alongside this ceremony, Austin will engage in crucial meetings with key regional allies, underlining the ongoing progress towards enhancing security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.

Austin is slated to convene with counterparts from Australia, Japan, and the Philippines, signifying a notable stride towards bolstering regional security integration, as emphasized by defense officials. These engagements serve to strengthen existing partnerships and reinforce the collective commitment to upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific.

On the agenda is a meeting with Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense Richard Marles, following Australia's recent announcement of a substantial increase in defense spending. Discussions are expected to revolve around U.S. force positioning in Australia and collaborative efforts to fortify Australia's defense capabilities, particularly through initiatives like the Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordinance Enterprise.

Highlighting the Indo-Pacific's prominence, Austin will also meet with Japanese Minister of Defense Kihara Minoru, building upon the momentum established during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's recent visit to the U.S.

Noteworthy achievements in defense cooperation, including the establishment of a networked air defense architecture, are likely to feature prominently in discussions.

Moreover, Austin's engagements will extend to trilateral meetings among the U.S., Australia, and Japan, focusing on a spectrum of regional issues and avenues for enhancing peace and security. A new trilateral agreement emphasizing cooperation in research, development, and strategic capabilities is anticipated to be signed, underscoring the commitment to technological collaboration and interoperability.

Further underscoring the collective commitment to regional security, Austin will host a quadrilateral meeting involving the defense ministers of the U.S., Japan, Australia, and the Philippines. Against the backdrop of China's recent provocations in the South China Sea, discussions will center on bolstering security cooperation and addressing concerning regional behavior.

The Indo-Pacom change of command ceremony will serve as a pivotal moment to acknowledge the efforts of outgoing commander Navy Adm. John Aquilino in fortifying partnerships across the region. Austin will also extend recognition to Aquilino's successor, Navy Adm. Samuel Paparo, and the dedicated U.S. service members contributing to regional stability.

In addition to these engagements, Austin will seize the opportunity to meet with leaders from the Freely Associated States, which include the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau, reaffirming the enduring commitment to partnership and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

Source: Department of Defense, April 30, 2024


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