SECRETARY KERRY: Good afternoon, everybody. It really is a pleasure for me to welcome the Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott here to the State Department for the first time as prime minister and my first time to visit with him here. But we had the great pleasure of sitting down together very shortly after he became prime minister when were in Bali at the conference, the ASEAN conference there. And we shared a lot of different thoughts at that time.
This morning, we had a chance to meet with the President and I think both of us would agree it was a very extensive, comprehensive meeting and a very positive one. Bottom line, the United States of America has no better friend than Australia. And it has been proven time and time again through the years. I personally remember when I was in the Navy and stationed in Vietnam, Australia was there at our side, as Australia has always been.
And whether it is support for democracy, rule of law, standing up for human rights, speaking out across the planet, Australia is at our side. They have been voicing strong concerns about Ukraine, about what is happening there, about Syria, about the humanitarian catastrophe.
And in recent days, the prime minister has carried out very successful trips both to China and to Japan, which advance our interests as well, because we are deeply engaged in our negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. We both have high hopes of being able to advance that, because it raises the standards of doing business and ultimately creates a race to the top, not the bottom, and we all benefit from that.
So we have a lot to talk about. Obviously there is a world full of challenges at this moment for all of us. But with respect to the obligations of the United States to try to meet those challenges, we could not have a better ally, a better partner, a better friend. And I’m very grateful to welcome the prime minister here today.
PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT: Well, thank you, Secretary Kerry. It is terrific to be here in the State Department, my second visit to the State Department, but my first visit as prime minister to speak with the Secretary about a whole range of issues. We’ll have the chance to speak more extensively on some of the topics that were covered with the President earlier today.
But I am particularly grateful for America’s continuing, deep, and strong involvement in Southeast Asia – continuing, deep, and strong involvement in Southeast Asia. Because while there is so much that is good in our region, there are, nevertheless, security challenges. And there is the importance of ensuring that we are all good international citizens. Because the lesson of history is that we will all advance together or none of us will advance at all. The lesson of history is that if we want prosperity, we must have peace, because if you’re not a peaceful region you can’t be a prosperous region. We all want prosperity, and because we all want prosperity we’ve got to have peace.
And this is, between Australia and the United States, a great partnership for peace. We have been partners, allies, friends for a hundred years now. And as time goes by, this partnership just gets stronger and stronger. As far as I’m concerned, the United States is family to Australia, and that’s why it’s important to be here to talk to our family and to deepen and broaden our understanding across a whole range of international issues.
So I’m really looking forward to the – this time with Secretary Kerry, just as I cherished the time earlier today with the President. I’m looking forward to discussions tomorrow with the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and some of the leaders of the United States security agencies, because this is a very important trip for my country and I believe it is quite a significant trip for the wider world as well.
SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER ABBOTT: Thanks very much.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Iraq —
SECRETARY KERRY: And by the way, we look forward to being in Australia for the G20 very, very much.
I’ll just take one question real quick. Somebody was asking something.
QUESTION: On – yes, on Iraq, Iraq seems to be coming apart. Doesn’t the U.S. have to provide air support?
SECRETARY KERRY: Well, let me just affirm very, very clearly we are deeply concerned about what is happening in Iraq, and we are not concerned and waiting. We are providing assistance. We are in direct touch with Prime Minister Maliki, with the leaders at the top level. I’ve just completed phone calls now with people in Iraq.
And I know the President of the United States is prepared to make key decisions in short order. And as he made clear earlier, options are on the table right now and at the appropriate time I’m sure you’ll hear from the President. Thank you.