MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Japan and Australia on Thursday agreed to cooperate closely on defense as a breakthrough and a milestone in the latest move to strengthen security ties in the context of China’s growing military and economic prowess. Appreciate the agreement.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a virtual summit to seal a deal that had been in the works for several years.
Australia is working with Japan, India, the United States and the United Kingdom to strengthen defense ties with China amid concerns over its pressure on Taiwan, freedom of navigation in the region and trade disputes.
Morrison said Japan’s first Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) with any country would allow Australian and Japanese forces to work together on defense and humanitarian missions.
“Japan is our closest partner in Asia, as demonstrated by our Special Strategic Partnership, the only partnership of its kind in Australia – the rule of law, human rights, free trade and the shared trust between two great democracies committed to one Equal partnership. Free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Morrison said at a signing ceremony.
“The RAA is a historic treaty that opens a new chapter for advanced defense and security cooperation in a complex and rapidly changing world that you and I understand very well,” Morrison told the Japanese leader.
A Japanese foreign ministry official told a news conference that Kishida called the deal a “success” and added that the relationship with Australia would continue to be a model for security cooperation with other countries.
The summit comes as tensions over Chinese-claimed Taiwan mount as President Xi Jinping seeks to assert China’s claims of sovereignty over the democratically-ruled island.
According to a joint statement issued after the summit, Kishida and Morrison highlighted the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits and encouraged a peaceful resolution of the issues.
(Reportagem de Sonali Paul, Kiyoshi Takenaka)
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