Its the middle of the day at the Australia United States Ministerial Consultations, or AUSMIN, in Sydney during August 2014. The talks have been underway for more than four hours.
Opposite the cameras, in the corner of the drawing room at Admiralty House, Sydney is the Acting Assistant Director of Defences United States Alliance Policy Section, Sophia Blix. The Force Posture Agreement is in her hands, ready to be signed.
The Australian ministers for Defence and Foreign Affairs, and the US secretaries of State and Defense, enter the room and take their seats at the table for the signing of the agreement, which represented a significant milestone in Australias alliance with the United States.
Sophia, who was an integral part of Australias negotiating team, said it was a unique opportunity to see an idea through to fruition. Its not every day that you have the opportunity to work on something that is signed by four ministers and will help frame our cooperation with our most important strategic partner for decades, she said.
The Acting Assistant Secretary of the Major Powers Branch, Alex Kelton, says the agreement reaffirms both countries commitment to work towards full implementation of the force posture initiatives.
Against a backdrop of recent developments in Iraq and the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, last years discussions acknowledged the high level of cooperation between the two countries and their importance in countering shared threats, not only in the AsiaPacific and Indian Ocean regions, but across the globe.
Weve had 10 years of operations together in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we now enjoy high levels of interoperability. The US alliance is our most important security relationship, and having this annual opportunity to sit down with the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense is unique, Alex said.
The AUSMIN communiqué reaffirmed both countries commitment to supporting the US rebalance to the AsiaPacific region and the force posture initiatives, and to exploring opportunities for enhanced cooperation on issues such as ballistic missile defence and defence industry collaboration.
Alex said the communiqué was a reflection of the close relationship that has formed between the Australian ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs and the two US secretaries.
The relationship is extremely warm and friendly and the discussions are free-flowing and frank, Alex said.