US, Australia to Strengthen Military Ties

Top U.S. and Australian officials are holding formal talks on Monday on strengthening military ties.U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are meeting in Melbourne with their Australian counterparts, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith.Officials on both sides said military cooperation is in the interest of both countries. News reports say the agreement could give the U.S. access to Australian ports and other military facilities, strengthening its position in the Asia-Pacific region. Both nations have expressed concern about China’s military strength.

Clinton arrived in Australia Saturday. She met with Prime Minister Julia Gillard Sunday and the two announced a joint investment in solar energy technology.A group of Australian veterans protesting the war in Afghanistan is planning to demonstrate in front of the government house Monday during the U.S.-Australian summit.Australia is the last stop on Clinton’s 10-day tour of Asia-Pacific nations, which has also taken her to China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand – Voanews