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U.S. and Australian Reps Cite Common Ground

WASHINGTON (CN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in on the current Somali pirate crisis, calling the pirates "nothing more than criminals" in the course of a wide-ranging declaration of mutual entente with the Australian government.

Clinton said she asked Australia officials to play a larger role in Afghanistan during a meeting with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Australian ministers of foreign affairs and defense.

No decisions were finalized, but Australia is considering providing assistance in capacity building and training, but is not strongly considering troop increases, said Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith.

On the heels of an attack by Somali pirates on an American flagged ship, Clinton declared, "They are nothing more than criminals."

She said the U.S. and Australia a range of common concerns ranging from piracy to cyber security to North Korea, and said there was common ground between the two nations and almost all issues discussed.

Smith was joined by Australian Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon at the annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations, which is the twenty-fourth of its kind.

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