Many readers of this site will have heard of AUSMIN, the annual Australia-US talks between each country's defence and foreign ministers. But very few of us will ever get into the room when these high level talks go on.

Lucky for us, then, that the Lowy Institute is hosting a distinguished American diplomat who knows exactly what happens 'in the room', and who shares some of those insights in this interview previewing the 2013 AUSMIN talks, which start in Washington today.

Kurt Campbell was Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs in the first Obama Administration, and is in Australia as the Lowy Institute's first Distinguished International Fellow. Kurt was one of the primary architects of the Obama Administration's signature foreign policy initiative, the 'pivot'. Or should that be 're-balance'? It's complicated, as you will hear.