The US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney has welcomed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's support for a major research project to be led by the Centre into the Australia - United States Alliance.

The Prime Minister announced her government's $2 million contribution for the 21st Century Alliance project at an American Australian Association dinner in New York.

US Studies Centre chief executive Professor Geoffrey Garrett said corporate partners would match the government contribution. This includes a generous donation from the Dow Chemical Company.

Professor Geoffrey Garrett said the Australia-US relationship would be at least as important in the coming decades as it has been in the past.

"The 21st Century challenges facing the alliance are very different from those at its founding during the early days of the Cold War. But the shared values and interests between our two countries that were so evident then still provide the perfect platform for addressing these challenges together as good friends, strong allies and willing partners", Professor Garrett said.

Research will focus on five areas of cooperation between Australia and the US: Defence and Security; Emerging Asia; Trade and Investment; Natural Resources and the Environment; and Education and Innovation.

The project will bring together the best institutions and thinking from Australia and the US to canvass new thinking on how the alliance can best meet the principal challenges ahead. It will feature a series of workshops and conferences in both Australia and the US to consider discussion papers, theme reports and a final report written by experts from both countries due in 2013.

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