THE prospect of U.S. missiles being stationed in northern Australia is again being discussed - and no one is prepared to rule out the weapons being based in Darwin.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Saturday in Australia that he was in favor of placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in Asia relatively soon, possibly within months.
Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds said Monday that while the locations for the missile bases were not yet known, Australia would not be one of them. "But I can confirm that he made no request and he wasn't anticipating any request".
The comments come days after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the US was now free to deploy the weapons following its withdrawal last week from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russian Federation.
When asked about the potential for American hardware on Australian soil yesterday, Foreign Minister Marise Payne appeared to leave open the possibility.
China warned Tuesday it would take unspecified countermeasures if the United States goes ahead with plans to deploy ground-based missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States is "constantly" evaluating the way it defends itself.
But any decision would be made on the basis of Australia's sovereign interests.
"It's important that we make the Straits of Hormuz safer than they now are", he told reporters.
Fu said it was important to recognise the USA is proposing to install the weapons at China's "doorstep".
Mr Morrison says while it is important to make the shipping lanes safer than they are, it was also vital to de-escalate tensions.
"And we also call on our neighbours, our neighbouring countries, to exercise prudence and not to allow a USA deployment of its intermediate-range missiles on (their) territory", he added, naming Australia, Japan and South Korea.
"What we've asked 60-plus nations to do is provide assistance in securing ... the Strait of Hormuz so that commercial vessels can travel through there", he told Sky News during a trip to Sydney for ministerial meetings.
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