The US government says it is considering closing military bases in Australia if the country doesn’t accept a deal on troop numbers.
The US is not yet officially declaring war, but President Donald Trump has been calling for troop levels to be reduced in Australia.
The move has been backed by the United Kingdom and Australia’s allies.
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Read more: The US has already announced it will send between 30,000 and 35,000 troops to the Australian territory of Darwin, where it plans to build an airbase.
The base, in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef, will house about 1,500 troops.
Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Tuesday that a decision on the troop numbers would be made in due course.
“I think the Australian people deserve to know how many troops they will be deploying, how many they will have in their footprint,” he said.
“And I think that the Australians need to know this in a timely fashion, because if we are going to continue to be a part of this global community and to be able to have a presence on the front lines, we are also going to need to have troops.”
Mr Mattis said the US would have no choice but to close the bases if the Government of Australia refuses to accept the deal.
“It is in the interest of the Australian government, the Australian taxpayer, and of the people of Australia that we are not going to have more troops in Australia,” he told reporters.
“If we do not have a reasonable basis for it, we will be very disappointed in the result.”
The Australian government is due to formally announce its decision in a week.
The Coalition government is also expected to announce its stance on troop levels soon.
The Government of Queensland is due in the federal parliament this week.
Mr Mattis’ comments come after the US President spoke out against Australia’s troop levels.
Mr Trump said Australia was not being “quite fair” when it came to troop levels in its military presence, saying they were too small.
“You have Australia, a country of roughly 8 million people, that’s about 1.3 million people in the military.
And yet you’re spending over $100 billion a year on your military,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House.
“Do you think you’re going to be fair?
Because if you are, you should be getting rid of all of your troops.”
The US military has been operating in Australia since its founding in 1917, when the US military was based in Darwin.
It has had troops in Darwin since 2002.