Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has pressed US Vice-President Mike Pence to consider Australia’s interests in their 30-day review of the US-led effort to defeat Islamic State in Australia’s most senior meeting yet with the Trump administration.
Ms Bishop said Mr Pence did not ask Australia to increase its military contribution to the fight against Islamic State in the one hour meeting in Washington early this morning.
But she said Australia wanted its point of view considered in the review.
“We discussed the fight against ISIS in general terms. There is a review in the United States under way, as to the strategy for defeating ISIS and I gave some input into the Vice-President’s thinking.
“We want to be part of the strategic thinking of the United States,” she said.
Ms Bishop said otherwise the talks included discussions of the coalition military effort in Afghanistan and China’s constructed islands in the South China Sea.
She also said she had invited Mr Pence to visit Australia.
“I think it’s important that a senior member of the Administration visit Australia and visit our region.
“I’m hoping that the Vice-President will also be able to visit Australia when he tours the region,” she said.
Ms Bishop said it was likely US President Donald Trump would meet with Malcolm Turnbull this year.
With US President Donald Trump on the war path over trade worldwide, Ms Bishop was keen to impress that the US has a trade surplus with Australia to fend of any possible review.
“No, the Australia-US free trade agreement was not raised. As I’ve said previously, the United States enjoys a trade surplus in that free trade agreement.
“It’s been in place since 2005. It has benefited both our countries enormously and if there were to be a review of the Australia-US free trade agreement, I’m sure it would find that it has been of benefit to the United States,” she said.
Source: The Australian