Remarks With Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd After Their Meeting

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Benjamin Franklin Room
Washington, DC
March 24, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am delighted that we’ve had the opportunity, first with the President and now here at the State Department, to discuss a range of important issues with the Prime Minister and with his delegation. America doesn’t have a better friend in the world than Australia, a friend through good times and hard times on so many of the historic and difficult challenges that have faced the United States and Australia, both singly and together. And we have reaffirmed out commitment to working closely on the range of difficult problems, but also exciting opportunities that lie ahead.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, again, welcome here to the Benjamin Franklin Room in the State Department.

PRIME MINISTER RUDD: Thank you very much, Secretary of State. It’s good to be back here in the State Department. I’ve been here many times before, and it’s good to be here with you as Secretary of State. We regard you as a genuine friend of Australia, and it’s good to have had this discussion with you.

The Secretary is convening soon a conference in The Hague to galvanize international support for the good people of Afghanistan. This is something which Australia strongly supports. Foreign Minister Smith will be attending. This sort of collaborative effort is important for the future of Afghanistan. It is also further evidence of the strong leadership which we see from the Obama Administration and through the Secretary of State in so many areas of foreign policy.

The only other thing I would say is the Secretary of State’s recent visit to East Asia, I believe, sent a very strong and positive signal to our part of the world about this Administration’s engagement with the Asian Pacific, which will be such a dynamic part of the 21st century.

So, Secretary of State, thank you for hosting me to the State Department today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Prime Minister. Thank you all.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, one question if you would. The Polish foreign minister was quoted over the weekend with some unusually strong language saying that the Poles had taken considerable risk in agreeing to cooperate in American missile defense plans and that they are waiting on the current Administration’s announcement of its further plans with regard to missile defense and that he hopes that the Polish trust in the Americans was not misplaced. I’m paraphrasing, but it was close to that.

Now given the unusual nature of that language, what can you tell us about whether or not the Poles, to put it colloquially, are being left high and dry?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have a very long and deep relationship with Poland and with the Polish Government and the Polish people. We are going to continue to consult with them and work through the issues concerning security that are of, you know, great interest to not only the Poles but all Europeans and the United States. As members of NATO, we take seriously our alliance commitments and I’m very confident that we will work through whatever issues lie ahead on any front. And that’s part of what will be discussed at the upcoming NATO summit.

Thank you. Thank you all.

# #

PRN: 2009/253