US Secretary of State to hold talks with Australian PM Scott Morrison

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney today, kicking off a three-day

Pompeo US Australia JPG

Photo: Jeff Chiu/AP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Sydney today, kicking off a three-day official visit.

Mr Pompeo’s visit comes amid high tensions between Western powers and Iran in the Persian Gulf. Following Iran’s recent seizure of another oil tanker claiming it was in violation of international regulations, a second British warship is now escorting British vessels traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.

In response to Iran’s assertiveness in the Gulf, the US announced Operation Sentinel – a multi-national coalition whereby members ensure the safe travel of their vessels by working together to provide strong surveillance of the waterways in the Middle East. However, US partners, including the United Kingdom, have so far resisted.

Australia is yet to decide. If Canberra joins, the US will likely ask them for a frigate or surveillance aircraft. Whilst Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is engaging in discussions with the US, he is yet to make any strong commitments.

As tensions escalate in the Gulf, expect the US to apply more effort for Canberra to join its Operation Sentinel. While Australia appears hesitant to join, expect it to continue to prioritise its relationship with the US long-term.

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