Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who was then Defence Minister, attended last year’s talks in California alongside Julie Bishop. This will be the first time Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has participated in the talks.
This year’s event comes as tensions between the US and Iran continue to escalate and with the US and China about to re-open negotiations on trade.
“As part of his AUSMIN engagement, the secretary will participate in dialogues aimed at strengthening the Alliance, working shoulder-to-shoulder with Australia to meet global and transnational challenges, and safeguarding sovereignty in Pacific Island countries and Southeast Asia,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
“The Secretary will also meet with Prime Minister Morrison to discuss continued collaboration on advancing our shared set of values, principles, and overlapping interests.”
Pompeo, one of Trump’s most trusted advisers, will also travel to Thailand and Micronesia on the trip.
Esper was only confirmed to the position this week by the US Senate, making this his first overseas trip since being appointed the permanent Defence Secretary.
He replaced James Mattis, who resigned just before Christmas because of policy disagreements with the President.