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Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta may have travelled half way around the world for talks on regional security, but for the US press there was only one issue that mattered - the sex lives of America's most senior military commanders.

The front page stories of America's two most respected newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post, yesterday carried the dateline: Perth, Australia as US reporters assigned to cover AUSMIN ignored the talks and instead filed home the latest on the investigations into former CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus and commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Allen.

The American reporters began sending stories about the opening of the new investigation into Gen. Allen before the US Air Force jets carrying them landed at Perth, having been given briefings mid-air somewhere over WA.

"It's not that we are not interested in following US relations with Australia, but the Allen story is now the most dominant story in the US and this our chance to get Panetta on the record about it," Robert Burns, a senior correspondent for US news agency Associated Press told _The West Australian _.

Mrs Clinton and Mr Panetta spent most of the day locked in talks with Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr at the State Reception Centre at Kings Park.

Their arrival at the park and the laying of a wreath at the war memorial had been billed as one of the best places for the public to catch a glimpse of the world's most powerful woman.

But the general public were kept well at bay as Mrs Clinton and Mr Panetta arrived at the park, flanked by an entourage of secret service agents, staffers and America's most senior military officers.

Among those officers was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin Dempsey and US Pacific commander Admiral Samuel Locklear.

After laying the wreaths, there was brief photo opportunity overlooking the Perth skyline. Then they were off, back up the hill and into the reception centre for talks on Afghanistan, American bases in Australia and the bizarre scandals engulfing senior US military officers.