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Top-Level Australia-U.S. Talks Begin in Sydney

November 3, 1989

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ Secretary of State James A. Baker III met Friday with Foreign Minister Gareth Evans for talks centering on the Australian-U.S. dispute over agricultural subsidies.

Evans, who said trade has ″always been an element in our relationship,″ labeled the U.S. Farm Bill, the American Export Enhancement Program and sugar protection measures as issues dividing the two countries.

Baker however said the two countries share similar perspectives on most issues to a ″remarkable degree,″ adding, ″Whenever we do not see eye-to- eye, we can rely on our tradition of close consultations.″

In addition to trade, the two days of talks that end Saturday are expected to include East-West relations, chemical weapons and reforms in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China.

Baker praised Australia’s role as an ally in the two world wars and the Korean conflict, adding that both countries are ″boosters of an open international trading system.″

″We can take pride in the work our nations have done to promote a more open, market-oriented international trading system,″ he said. ″We applaud the highly constructive role Australia has played in our mutual efforts to strengthen the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) rules governing agricultural trade,″

Evans replied: ″But what gives us heart is the evident willingness of the U.S. to work to get genuine and lasting improvements in international trading arrangements.″

Vice President Dan Quayle was criticized on a visit this summer for saying he didn’t believe Australian concerns about subsidies for U.S. farm exports, prompting Trade Minister Michael Duffy to say Quayle didn’t know what he was talking about.

Baker arrived Thursday night with Defense Secretary Dick Cheney for the talks that replace those held annually when New Zealand was a functioning partner of the ANZUS treaty.

New Zealand’s 1984 anti-nuclear policy, which banned port visits by U.S. nuclear-powered warships, led to a major rift with the U.S.

Baker said in Washington before leaving he would not meet with any New Zealand officials.

But in the first sign of cooperation since the two countries drifted apart, the U.S. government Friday announced support for a resolution in the United Nations against driftnet fishing that was co-sponsored by New Zealand.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Geoffrey Palmer, said in Wellington that his labor government had been working closely with the U.S. on the resolution since a visit in September.

″I am delighted with the outcome,″ Palmer said.

Baker and Cheney head the highest-level U.S. delegation to Australia in more than 20 years. Commerce Secretary Robert A. Mosbacher and Trade Representative Carla Hills also are visiting for a 12-nation economic conference of Pacific Rim countries starting Monday.

Baker and Evans emphasized in their statements the close relationship between Canberra and Washington.

″I cannot overstate the value the United States attaches to continued excellent relations with Australia,″ said Baker, adding that this was his first visit and, ″I do not plan to be a stranger Down Under.″

The talks at Watson Naval Base conclude Saturday.

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