Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne Before Their Meeting

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SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  It is a real pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Payne back to the State Department.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Second visit since I’ve been here.  And we have been on the phone, in meetings, on video so many times, and I think it’s just a testament to a number of things, starting with the now 70th anniversary of ANZUS.  But most importantly, if we look at what the United States and Australia are doing together – bilaterally, regionally, globally – this partnership has never been stronger.  It’s never been more important, I think, to the well-being of our people.

And so it’s a particularly important time for us to spend time together.  We’ll be spending a lot of quality time tomorrow.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  We will, indeed.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  We have the 2+2 ministerial with our defense secretary colleagues covering the whole range of issues.  But for today, Marise, just welcome.  It’s great to have you back.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Thank you, Tony.  And a great pleasure to be back in Washington, and particularly to mark the 70th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty, which underpins and is the foundation, really, of the modern alliance, but an alliance which has served both Australia, the United States, and the region so strongly over those decades.

Also to be here for the AUSMIN 2021.  It is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to have that meeting.  I think the challenge for our officials to bring together these gatherings in the context of COVID-19 is not insignificant.  I particularly thank those officials for doing that.

But also, importantly, to send a strong message about the warmth, the depth, the breadth of the Australia-U.S. alliance and the work that we’re doing together to deal with some of the most contemporary challenges.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, great.  It’s great to have you.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  And we’ll get down to work.

FOREIGN MINISTER PAYNE:  Thank you, all.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thanks.

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