Australia rules out hosting US missiles

Australia has ruled out hosting US missiles, after Washington said it plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Asia. (File/AFP)
Updated 05 August 2019

Australia rules out hosting US missiles

  • Australian Defence minister told a public broadcaster that the issue came up in her meeting with Esper
  • Following the United States plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Asia, Australia scotched the notion of locating them Down Under

SYDNEY: Australia on Monday ruled out hosting ground-based US missiles after talks with Washington's top defence and diplomatic officials.

Following an announcement that the United States plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Asia, widely seen as an effort to contain China, Australia scotched the notion of locating them Down Under.

"It's not been asked of us, not being considered, not been put to us. I think I can rule a line under that," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said of the notion.

His comments came hours after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed Sydney following talks. Australian Defence minister Linda Reynolds told public broadcaster ABC the issue came up in her meeting with Esper: "I asked him directly, 'was there any expectation of a request', and he said 'no'."

Any formal request would put Australia in a difficult spot between long-time ally the United States and major trade partner China. Policy toward Beijing has become an increasing point of friction between Washington and Canberra, which has tried to maintain good working relations with Chinese President Xi Jinping's government.

While Australia has a mutual defence treaty with the United States, China's purchases of Australian coal and iron ore kept the latter's economy purring through the global financial crisis. Pompeo's visit featured a sharp warning for partners to "have their eyes wide open" about China's increasingly assertive behaviour.

He also cautioned Australian policymakers about the risk of turning a blind eye to abuses in order to trade with Beijing. "You can sell your soul for a pile of soybeans, or you can protect your people," he said. "We think it's possible to have trade with China and yet require them to behave with the same set of rules."

US Marine Corps units regularly rotate through Darwin, raising speculation that the northern city could host missiles after the US withdrawal Friday from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia. Experts say the most likely location for deployment is at American military facilities on the island of Guam.


Japan’s Abe says he will meet Iran’s Rouhani this month in NY

Updated 32 min 14 sec ago

Japan’s Abe says he will meet Iran’s Rouhani this month in NY

  • Abe added that he would travel to Belgium after the UNGA session
  • He is also meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he would meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the end of the month, as regional tensions rise in the Middle East after the weekend attacks on Saudi oil facilities, public broadcaster NHK said.
It was during a meeting with members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that Abe repeated his intention of speaking with Rouhani on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, according to NHK.
Abe added that he would travel to Belgium after the UNGA session and meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, NHK said.