Foreign Minister Bob Carr will highlight the priority Australia places on its relationship with neighbours in South-East Asia by travelling to Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore on his first overseas visit as Foreign Minister.
Senator Carr said Australia valued the close and growing relationship it enjoyed with partners in South-East Asia.
“This region is critical to Australia’s long-term national interest — politically, economically and for regional and global security.
“The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been central to the development of a prosperous and stable region and to the increasing stature of regional institutions, particularly the East Asia Summit (EAS).”
Senator Carr will depart Australia on Saturday for Cambodia, the current chair of ASEAN and the EAS.
He will meet Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who is also a Deputy Prime Minister.
“I look forward to discussing how we can cooperate on a range of issues, including regional security and ASEAN’s ambitious connectivity agenda, as well as the future expansion of our bilateral relationship,” Senator Carr said.
While in Cambodia, Senator Carr will also visit a range of Australian-funded projects, including the Fred Hollows Foundation's Siem Reap Regional Eye Hospital.
Senator Carr will meet a range of senior Government officials in Vietnam, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Pham Binh Minh.
“Our relationship with Vietnam is pivotal for our engagement with the region, where it is an increasingly important player,” he said.
Senator Carr will also open the new Australian Consulate-General premises in Ho Chi Minh City, which will facilitate growing trade links between the two countries.
In Singapore, Senator Carr will meet Foreign Minister Shanmugam, where he will discuss the multi-dimensional and dynamic bilateral relationship, a cornerstone of which is the strong links between the people of both nations.
“Singapore is one of our closest partners in the region and our strategic interests align in many areas. I look forward to discussing a number of critical issues, including ongoing reforms in Burma,” Senator Carr said.
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