The United States is pressing Canberra to sign an agreement not to send each other's troops to the new-born International Criminal Court, The Australian daily reported Wednesday.
The proposal put the Howard government in a dilemma. Australia signed up as a founding member of the ICC in June.
The proposed pact is part of a US global action backed by threats of sanctions. Washington has threatened to withhold military aid from ICC member countries that do not sign deals to protect US troops from the court. But as an exception, Australia has not been threatened, according to the paper.
It was reported that Germany, Spain and Switzerland already have refused the US aggressive proposal.
A spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Tuesday that the government was considering the request. "The effect wouldbe to insure that neither country would surrender or transfer the other's nationals to the ICC without the consent of the other," hesaid.
The United States strongly opposed to the foundation of the ICCclaiming Americans overseas would be unfairly targeted for politically motivated prosecutions. The US action is interpreted in the Europe as another example of unilateralism of the sole superpower and would widen further the gap between the United States and its traditional allies in the post-cold war era.
However, Australia is the United States' dead-hard ally and rarely acted against Americans' will.
(Xinhua News Agency August 28, 2002)