Sex Scandal Beclouds AUSMIN Talks

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s talks with the Gillard government have begun in Perth but threaten to be overshadowed by the spiralling sex scandal involving top American military officials.

Mrs Clinton is in the annual AUSMIN talks at Perth’s State Reception Centre with Defence Minister Stephen Smith, Foreign Minister Bob Carr and US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

They will discuss Australia’s deepening future involvement in the US strategic “pivot” to Asia, Afghanistan post 2014, cyber warfare and the security of maritime trade routes to Australia’s north, among other issues.

But Mr Panetta is also grappling with the growing sex scandal engulfing some of his top security officials, which has already claimed the scalp of CIA director David Petraeus and is now entangling General John Allen, who as ISAF commander heads all coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Mr Panetta is expected to be peppered with questions when he faces a press conference this afternoon after the AUSMIN talks.

At her opening remarks before the AUSMIN meeting, Mrs Clinton outlined the closer security co-operation she hoped Australia and the US would build in coming years.

“All of our work together, whether it’s on the world stage or here in the Asia Pacific or the Indo-Pacific, is driven by the values and the vision we share,” she said.

“We recognise that stability and security increasingly depend on balanced and vibrant economies. We’re also committed to working hand in hand with Australia to build a more mature and effective multilateral architecture for the region that can help settle disputes peacefully, promote universal rights (and) greater trade and commerce within an economic system that is open, free, transparent and fair.”

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Article courtesy of The Sydney Morning Herald.

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