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Hillary Clinton on way to Perth
Hillary Clinton on way to Perth

Perth will be the centre of a major security clampdown next month when it hosts US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta for top-level defence and regional security talks.

The so-called AUSMIN meetings will kick-start discussions on the use of Stirling naval base as the Indian Ocean hub for US warships.

But the focus of the talks will be increasing US access to northern Australian airbases for its warplanes and the rotation of more US marines through Darwin.

Mrs Clinton and Mr Panetta will also discuss the future of Afghanistan with their Australian counterparts, Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, during the two-day visit.

_The Weekend West _understands Mrs Clinton and Mr Panetta are expected to arrive in Perth on November 13 and will be joined by America's most senior military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, and the head of US Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear.

The talks will be held at Kings Park on November 14 in the $9 million reception centre built for last year's CHOGM leaders' retreat.

Premier Colin Barnett is believed to have offered a State reception and Prime Minister Julia Gillard will host a dinner.

Mr Smith said he was delighted his home State could again play host to important guests.

"It's not just a chance to have a conversation about strategic matters that impact Australia, it's also a chance to draw attention to the long-term strategic implications for WA," he said.

Mr Panetta, the former chief of the CIA, is expected to visit the SAS Swanbourne barracks to thank the regiment for its efforts in Afghanistan.

_The West Australian _revealed this year that Australian special forces would likely move from the southern province of Oruzgan to Kabul after 2014 to take the fight to the dangerous Taliban-held territories along the Pakistan border.

Both Washington and Canberra have raised the idea that Stirling naval base have more visits from US warships as the US works to confront growing Chinese military power.

While both governments are keen to stamp out suggestions Stirling will become a permanent base for US warships, they say vessels could eventually "rotate" in and out of Garden Island with fresh crews flown in from America.

In June, Mr Panetta said the US would reposition its fleet so that 60 per cent of its warships were in the Asia-Pacific region by 2020.

The Perth talks will also advance discussions on the development of a ballistic missile defence shield, which may eventually equip Australian warships with anti-missile weaponry.