By LALIT K JHA
WASHINGTON — At the conclusion of the two-day Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, the two countries agreed to continue to work together to achieve a free and democratic Burma.
Leading the Australian delegation, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon held a wide range of talks on bilateral and regional issues with their American counterparts. The US side was represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
While, Burma was not one of the major topics of discussions, it figured during the talks and was reflected in the joint communiqué issued at the end of the meeting on Thursday.
“Both countries reaffirmed their commitment to a free and democratic Burma that respects the rights of all its citizens. They agreed to work together in support of that goal,” the communiqué said.
The statement noted Indonesia’s significant progress in strengthening its democracy, reforming its military, countering terrorist groups, tackling corruption and promoting regional security.
“They committed themselves to deeper and broader engagement with Indonesia, particularly on such issues as climate change and the global economic crisis,” the statement said.
The two countries also noted their shared commitment to encourage Vietnam’s continuing economic liberalization and legal reform and welcomed Vietnam’s increasing international engagement, including its role as a member of the UN Security Council and as the next chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.