US, Australia ‘see the world through the same eyes,’ Aussie leader says aboard US carrier
By CAITLIN DOORNBOS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 13, 2019
ROCKHAMPTON, Australia – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday flew to visit the USS Ronald Reagan in the Coral Sea, the U.S. Navy said Saturday.
Aboard the ship, he spoke to a crowd of U.S. and Royal Australian Navy sailors participating in the eighth iteration of the two nations’ Talisman Sabre exercise this month. Held every other year, the exercise is designed to “strengthen and illustrate Australia-U.S. combat readiness” and their ability to work together, the Navy statement said.
“Our two countries have always understood each other and stood by each other,” Morrison said, according to a transcript of his speech. “… Australia and the United States see the world through the same eyes."
Morrison said it was an honor to visit the Japan-based aircraft carrier that serves as an “extraordinary symbol not only of American power, but of the United States’ commitment to the many nations of this region and their security,” according to the transcript.
“We are in awe of the strength and power of the United States, which this ship so ably represents, but at the heart of our friendship are the values and beliefs that knit our two countries together,” he added.
Morrison also watched flight operations from the deck and met with the ship’s top leadership, the Navy’s statement said.
The visit by Australia’s head of government came a day before President Donald Trump invited him to Washington for an official visit and state dinner, marking the first time an Australian prime minister received such an invitation in more than a decade, according to a Saturday report by the Australian Associated Press.
Morrison and Trump briefly met last month during the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where the two affirmed their countries’ alliance.
The U.S. and Australian navies are increasingly focused on the freedom of navigation and trade in the Indo-Pacific. Since 2012, China has been illegally claiming and militarizing reefs and islands in the South China Sea. International law does not recognize their claims to the land features.
A Chinese Auxiliary General Intelligence vessel has been detected just outside of Australia’s territorial waters this week and is suspected of spying on the Talisman Sabre drills, according to a Friday report by Australia’s ABC News.
In May, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson said navies are “meant to get underway” when asked on a press call if he thought Australia should boost its presence in the region.
“I think every nation is going to have to assess the situation and their own approach, but at some point, navies are meant to get underway and be present and provide options to their leadership,” he told reporters.
This year marks the largest Talisman Sabre exercise to date, with more than 34,000 military personnel participating and the addition of forces from Japan, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Delegations from India and South Korea will also observe the exercise.
Talisman Sabre continues through early August with most of the events happening in the northeastern Australian state of Queensland.
Before leaving the carrier on Friday, Morrison told sailors he appreciated their commitment to the “grueling field-training exercises” of Talisman Sabre, according to the transcript of his speech.
“You will put yourselves to the test and ensure that ours is a seamless partnership — one that works on the seas, on the ground and in the air,” he said, according to the transcript. “And that the great mateship that underpins the Australian military ethos extends to our U.S. mates.”