|Howard-Bush defence treaty passes hurdle
Posted 37 minutes ago
An important defence treaty between Australia and the United States has passed one of its final hurdles.
The treaty was negotiated by former prime minister John Howard and then US president George W Bush in Sydney in 2007.
The treaty also applies to US defence trade with Britain.
Australia and Britain are two of the closest US allies and Washington rarely restricts defence trade with them.
But US regulators still need to sign off on sales, creating a hurdle that military firms say holds up business.
The deal would speed up the trade of arms and defence technology between the US and Australia by eliminating most export licences.
The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has now recommended approval of the treaty, which will need to be ratified by Congress.
The full chamber still needs to ratify the treaties.
Committee chairman Senator John Kerry called the treaty's approval "a critical step toward enhancing our cooperative efforts to combat the mutual threats we face".
"These treaties help make cooperation between the United States and two of its closest allies more streamlined, efficient and effective by removing unnecessary bureaucratic delays," he said.
The Obama administration supported the treaties, but some politicians were concerned the language was not sufficiently clear to protect US high-tech secrets.