CANBERRA — Top officials of Australia and the United States on Friday agreed to boost counter-terrorism efforts in Southeast Asia as well as in Iraq.
The annual Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) were held in Adelaide, capital city of Australia’s state of South Australia, amid tight security with the attendance of Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, Defense Minister Robert Hill and US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick.
In a joint communique released after the talks, the two countries emphasized the importance of encouraging governments and institutions that promote tolerance and work to counter extremism, but gave no details of the new measures to combat terrorism.
The consultations were held only days after a video tape was seized by Indonesian police showing a masked man warning that Australia will face more attacks unless it pulls its troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Australia, who maintains around 1,300 troops in and around Iraq, is the only one in core countries in the US-led coalition forces in the war-torn Middle East country which has never experienced a major attack on home soil.
The two countries pledged in the joint communique to pursue their efforts to defeat “terrorists and insurgents” in war-ravaged Iraq.
Rumsfeld dismissed growing calls for the United States to start withdrawing forces from Iraq, saying Iraq was several years behind Afghanistan as a secure country…