There is also growing concern about how the Trump Administration has handled the COVID-19 outbreak following President Donald Trump’s travel ban from most of Europe.
Senator Payne said she and Mr Pompeo discussed the virus outbreak “at some length” during their meeting in Washington on Wednesday afternoon US time.
“It was a very significant day for the US as it made the decision to restrict travel from continental Europe. Both of our countries made carefully considered decisions early to start applying travel restrictions. We have followed the clear advice of our health experts,” Senator Payne said.
“We agreed we’re in for a tough time. That needs to be understood and accepted. Coronavirus will affect our economies for at least several months.
“However, a critical point in all of my discussions in the US this week, including my meeting with Secretary Pompeo, is that none of the other priorities and challenges we face have diminished.
“We will get through the COVID-19 impact, but our focus on security, stability and prosperity in the Pacific, the need for infrastructure development in our region, and critical technologies, still require our attention. We remain focused and action-oriented.”
The call to focus on critical technologies comes after Britain defied warnings from Australia and the US in allowing Chinese company Huawei to have a role in building the country’s 5G phone network.
Senator Payne said the two had “good discussions” about the “rules-based order, reform of international institutions and promising projects under our Trilateral Infrastructure Partnership with Japan”.
Senator Payne was in the US this week to lay the keel for the USS Canberra – the only ship in the US Navy named after a foreign capital.
In her speech to mark the event at the Austal USA shipyards in Alabama, Senator Payne said the continuing presence of the US Navy in the Indo-Pacific region was “as crucial today as it was in the Second World War”.
Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.