US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (second left), Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (left), US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis (right) and Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne (second right) take a garden walk at Government House during the 2017 Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Sydney on June 5, 2017. (MARK METCALFE / POOL / AFP)
CANBERRA - Australia would invoke a trilateral treaty and join any potential conflict between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States, Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday.
The Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty (ANZUS) is a security arrangement which was signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States in 1951, and requires trilateral cooperation regarding military matters in the Pacific region.
The Australia, New Zealand, US Security Treaty (ANZUS) signed in 1951 requires trilateral cooperation regarding military matters in the Pacific region
The prime minister told local radio on Friday that Australia "would come to the aid of the United States" if conflict arises, after discussing the matter with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a phone call held on Thursday evening. "We stand with the US, so to be very clear, if there is an attack on the US, the ANZUS treaty would be invoked and Australia would come to the aid of the United States, as America would come to our aid if we were attacked," Turnbull said on Macquarie radio.
Turnbull did not say in what specific capacity that would be, but said as one of Australia's closest allies, the United States could expect substantial support from Australia. Turnbull's comments came after the DPRK threatened a missile strike on the US Pacific territory of Guam following strong words from US President Donald Trump.
Turnbull's confirmation came just a day after Australia's Foreign Minister Julie Bishop refused to speculate as to whether Australia would invoke ANZUS in the event of conflict. She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that Australia was "not a party, in the legal sense, to the (current) Korean War armistice," and was at the time hesitant to declare Australia's support for the United States.
"As far as the ANZUS security alliance is concerned, that is an obligation to consult," Bishop said on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, Australia's opposition Labor party has declared that it would work with the government in a bipartisan approach to the escalating tensions between the DPRK and the United States.
"Australians should be reassured that on this matter ... the politics of Labor and Liberal are working absolutely together," Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Canberra on Friday.