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.


Serial airport stowaway remains jailed after latest arrest

Updated 15 sec ago

Serial airport stowaway remains jailed after latest arrest

  • Marilyn Hartman was arrested Friday night and later charged with felony criminal trespass

CHICAGO: A 67-year-old woman with a history of sneaking onto flights without a ticket will remain jailed after the latest incident in which police say she tried to get past security at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago.
Marilyn Hartman was arrested Friday night and later charged with felony criminal trespass. A judge on Sunday granted her bail but ordered that she stay in custody until a related probation hearing.
Hartman’s arrest marks the latest chapter in a story that’s played out for a decade at airports across the US, including last year when she was arrested after sneaking on a flight from O’Hare to London.
She ultimately pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing and was sentenced in March to 18 months’ probation after agreeing to stay away from Chicago’s two commercial airports.