Australia holds fire on Iran decision

A lot more consultation and thought is needed before Australia would join any military effort to protect shipping in the Persian Gulf, a senior minister says.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds will host their US counterparts Mike Pompeo and Mark Esper for the annual Australia-United States ministerial meeting in Sydney on Sunday.

Renewed tensions in the Middle East as Iran flexes its military muscle and the growing dominance of China in the Pacific region are expected to be the hot topics during the discussions.

Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann said no decision had been made as to whether Australia will join a US-led coalition aimed at protecting shipping in the Persian Gulf from Iranian military forces.

“These sorts of matters involve a lot of consultation with allies and relevant stakeholders,” he told Sky News on Friday ahead of the meeting.

“No doubt this is going to be one of the matters that will be discussed (at the meeting) but from an Australian point of view, no decision has been made.”

Australian and US defence personnel continue to work together side-by-side around the world, including in the Middle East, to pursue “our shared values and also our shared interests”, Senator Reynolds said on Thursday.

Read the article in the Shepparton News (AAP newswire).