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US ambassador Kennedy lands in Sydney

United States ambassador to Australia Caroline Kennedy will focus on regional security, economic engagement and climate change in the face of a more assertive China.

Ms Kennedy arrived in Sydney on Friday morning after her ambassadorship was unanimously confirmed by the US Senate in May and she was sworn in on June 10.

“Everybody is so excited about working together in the Quad and in the Pacific,” she told reporters after landing.

“China certainly has a big presence here in the region but our partnership is what I’ll be focused on. There’s a big agenda and I can’t wait to get started.”

Despite the US ambassador post to Australia remaining vacant for around 18 months, Ms Kennedy said the Pacific has drawn the focus of Washington.

“It’s certainly a big focus now. This is a critical area in the region,” she said.

“The US need to do more. We’re putting our embassies back in, and the Peace Corps is coming and USAID is coming back.

“We haven’t been there for a while but that’s all tremendously positive. The US and Australia working together will make a big, big impact.”

Ms Kennedy will formally present her credentials to the governor-general on Monday.

The ambassador’s arrival coincides with a national address by a former US national security agency chief.

Former admiral Michael Rogers will address the National Press Club about cyber-security and the threat posed by Russia and China in the cybersphere as well as how the trilateral AUKUS security alliance can respond to the emerging challenge.

The retired four-star admiral also headed the US Cyber Command under presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

Ahead of the address, Mr Rogers told the ABC that Australia and the US were intent on the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarine through the trilateral AUKUS security alliance as soon as possible.

“The good news is that clearly is the intent of both the US government, the Australian government, we want to aggressively meet the timeline,” he said.

Mr Rogers added that shifting priorities has also resulted in a renewed pivot to the Indo-Pacific.

“For a long time, particularly the post 9/11 environment, the US was dealing with a counterterrorism challenge that was not centred in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

“That focus took resources, time, attention, leaders’ decision bandwidth. We shifted that focus.

“But we have to acknowledge circumstances have changed. The Indo-Pacific region remains a cornerstone for the future for this world and we need to be fully integrated.”

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