Sydney (Australia), Jul 28 (EFE).- The United States’ Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Friday said that the alliance between his country and Australia is stronger than it ever has been, a comment that comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.
“We have no greater friend, no greater partner, no greater ally than Australia. And I don’t think that alliance or partnership has ever been stronger,” Blinken said before meeting his Australian counterpart Penny Wong in Brisbane.
“It makes such a huge difference to have close friends, close partners as we tackle the challenges that we both face around the world,” he said.
In return, the Australian foreign minister emphasized on the importance of the US-Australia alliance in the “challenging times.”
“We want a region and a world which is peaceful, stable, and prosperous. We understand the importance of working closely with you to ensure that that is achieved,” Wong said.
Australia and the US have recently strengthened their alliance through the Quad and AUKUS platforms to maintain their influence in the Indo-Pacific region in the face of rising tensions with China.
Quad is the security alliance made up of Japan, the US, Australia and India, while the AUKUS is a security partnership formed in 2021 by Australia, the United Kingdom and the US.
AUKUS, aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific, is enabling Australia to acquire and develop nuclear-powered submarines.
The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who is also visiting Australia, said on Friday that the US and Australia were concerned about China’s “troubling coercion” in the Indo-Pacific region.
“We’ll continue to support our allies and partners as they defend themselves from bullying behavior” in the region, Austin said.
The once-forgotten South Pacific region regained its geopolitical importance in 2022 when the Solomon Islands government signed a security pact with Beijing that provides for the deployment of Chinese law enforcement at Honiara’s request.
Blinken, Austin and their Australian counterparts would participate in the 2+2 AUSMIN annual ministerial meeting on Saturday to discuss issues related to the alliance, regional security and the climate crisis.
The Indo-Pacific region, which serves as the main route for a large part of the world maritime trade, has been the scene of several territorial disputes between China and several regional and world countries.
The self-ruled Taiwan Island in the region is another main reason for conflict between Beijing and Washington, as China considers it a part of its territory. EFE