Australia rules out hosting US missiles: PM
Australia on Monday ruled out hosting ground-based US missiles after talks with Washington’s top defense and diplomatic officials.
Following an announcement that the US plans to deploy intermediate-range missiles in Asia – widely seen as an effort to contain China – Australia scotched the notion of locating them Down Under.
“It’s not been asked of us, not being considered, not been put to us. I think I can rule a line under that,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said of the notion.
His comments came hours after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo departed Sydney following talks.
Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds told public broadcaster ABC the issue came up in her meeting with Esper: “I asked him directly, ‘was there any expectation of a request,’ and he said ‘no.’”
US Marine Corps units regularly rotate through Darwin, raising speculation that the northern city could host missiles after the US withdrawal Friday from the Intermediaterange Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia.
The Pentagon said Friday that the US will accelerate its development of new cruise and ballistic missile systems following its withdrawal from the INF.
Experts say the most likely location for deployment in Asia is at American military facilities on the island of Guam.