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Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong Before Their Meeting – United States Department of State

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FOREIGN MINISTER WONG:  I just want to say, Tony, it’s so wonderful to welcome you to Australia, and we have been looking forward to this.  We – obviously we’ve been working together for some time.  I know we saw each other just last week – was that just last week?  I think it was last week.  We have appreciated how much you personally and the administration have been engaged in the region.  And what I want to say to you is this:  I think Australians understand, certainly the government recognizes that we live in challenging times and how important this – not just our alliance but our friendship – is at this time, where we want a region and a world which is peaceful, stable, and prosperous.  And we understand the importance of working closely with you to ensure that that is achieved.  So thank you so much for being here.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, as we would say, right back at you, Penny.  We have no greater friend, no greater partner, no greater ally than Australia.  And I don’t think that alliance or partnership has ever been stronger, at least in my experience.  And it really does go to what you’ve said, which is particularly in challenging times, it makes such a huge difference to have close friends, close partners as we tackle the challenges that we both face around the world and also try to find some opportunity in finding progress.  I’m really grateful to you, to the deputy prime minister as well, Richard, for pulling AUSMIN together.  We are very much looking forward to it.  I have to say everywhere I go in the world or certainly in this region, it’s, “Oh yeah, Penny was just here.”  So I’m getting used to that too.  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINSITER WONG:  (Inaudible.)  Well, it’s wonderful to have you.

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