US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Sydney for high-level talks with the federal government.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop accompanied Senator Kerry on the flight from Myanmar where the pair had been for ASEAN talks.
Senator Kerry was greeted by NSW Premier Mike Baird, US ambassador to Australia John Berry, US consul-general Hugo Llorens and Kim Beazley, Australia’s ambassador to the US.
John Kerry is in Sydney and security at the Intercontinental is tight. Story @SBSNews > 南宁桑拿网,南宁夜生活,/i4kYRjmjxh Pic > pic.twitter广西桑拿,/DZYCEef3GL
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Later in the day, Senator Kerry spoke with Australian students at Sydney’s Maritime Museum about climate change.
Braving chilly temperatures, Mr Kerry told the handful of children in attendance that ocean conservation was a pressing issue deserving of their attention.
“The ocean is threatened like never before,” he said. “We’re going to continue to put this focus on everyone’s need to protect the ocean.”
He urged the students to use social media to “create a global movement” to campaign for environmental issues.
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Senator Kerry is in Australia for the annual Australia-United States Ministerial (AUSMIN) talks, which start on Tuesday.
He’ll be joined by US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ms Bishop and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston.
Opportunities for Australia’s special forces troops to keep training with their US comrades once they leave Afghanistan will be explored during the talks.
The four leaders will sign the Force Posture Agreement, which was reached by US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this year.
The agreement sets out the framework for an increased presence of US marines in Darwin. It will alos allow the US to expand military assets over the next 25 years in Australia.
Also on the agenda will be ways for US and Australian special forces soldiers to continue training exercises together once both nations have withdrawn from Afghanistan.
America will shift its military mission in the war-torn country to an advisory role at the end of this year, while Australia ended combat operations in 2013, but with Mr Kerry in town, attention may shift to affairs beyond Australia’s back yard.
For weeks, Mr Kerry has been spearheading efforts in the Middle East to broker a lasting ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and has been talking tough on Russia over the downing of MH17.
The latter tragedy has gripped Australia and with no end in sight to the conflict between separatists and Ukrainian forces around the crash site, it’s likely to be discussed in depth.
The AUSMIN talks also are an opportunity for Australia to showcase its enviably close alliance with the global superpower and number-one ally.
Australia strongly endorses the Obama administration’s rebalance strategy towards Asia and the Pacific, known as the “pivot”, and sees itself as a trusted partner in the region.
“Most allies of the United States would want to be in that situation,” University of Sydney Associate Professor Brendan O’Connor told AAP.
However there’s always the risk such displays of camaraderie can antagonise China.
The territorial dispute in the East China Sea between China and Japan – a strong ally of both the US and Australia – won’t go unmentioned at AUSMIN.