Australia – Republic of Korea Foreign and Defence Ministers (2+2) Meeting

Joint media release:

  • Senator the Hon. Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • The Hon. Stephen Smith MP, Minister for Defence

5 July 2013

Foreign and Defense Ministers Yun Byung-se and Kim Kwan-jin of the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Foreign and Defence Ministers Bob Carr and Stephen Smith of Australia held the first Foreign and Defence Ministers' (2+2) Meeting in Seoul, ROK, to discuss regional and global security issues and ways to advance security and defence cooperation between Australia and the ROK, on July 4 2013.

Australia and the ROK are important partners sharing common values and interests. The Korea-Australia partnership has developed over more than 50 years into a broad-based strategic partnership. Our commercial ties are strong and people-to people contacts are growing. Security cooperation between the two countries has increased significantly over recent years.

The Foreign and Defense Ministers, Yun Byung-se and Kim Kwan-jin, paid tribute to the sacrifices made by Australian servicemen to protect the freedom of the Republic of Korea between 1950 and 1953. Ministers Smith and Carr noted Australia's appreciation for the programs regularly organised by Korea's Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs for Australian veterans visiting Korea.

The four Ministers condemned the recent provocative actions by the DPRK, particularly its launch of a long range missile in November 2012 and its third nuclear test on 12 February 2013, which contravened the DPRK's obligations under UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 1718 and 1874 and under the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks. They welcomed the firm responses by the United Nations Security Council to the missile launch and nuclear test in Resolutions 2087 and 2094.

The four Ministers urged the DPRK to comply fully with its international obligations and commitments. The Ministers called on the DPRK to choose a path toward peace through trust, as has been offered by the international community, including the Republic of Korea. Ministers Smith and Carr expressed their support for the "Trust-Building Process on the Korean Peninsula" and the "Initiative on the Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation" which have been launched by the Korean government.

The Ministers agreed that 2+2 meetings were the key bilateral mechanism with oversight of the security and defence relationship between the two countries, and they agreed that the next of their joint regular 2+2 meetings would take place in 2015, if practicable in Australia, and that the meetings would take place on a regular basis every two years.

The ROK Minister for Defense, Kim Kwan-jin and the Australian Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith noted their existing commitment to hold a Defence Ministers' Dialogue annually.

The ROK Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yun Byung-se and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Bob Carr agreed to hold a Foreign Ministers' Dialogue annually.

The Ministers noted the establishment in 2012 of the annual bilateral Strategic Dialogue of senior officials, and agreed it represented an effective mechanism for senior-officials to review and prepare for 2+2 and other Ministerial meetings, as well as for the two countries to discuss the full range of their shared regional and global interests.

Ministers confirmed the commitment of their governments to the conclusion of negotiations on the Australia/Korea FTA which will deepen our bilateral economic partnership, spur economic and jobs growth in both countries, and put our two nations at the forefront of high-standard regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific.

The Ministers for Foreign Affairs agreed to continue to focus development cooperation between the two countries on areas of shared interest in support of sustainable development in the Asia-Pacific.

The Ministers welcomed the success of the revitalised Korea-Australia Young Political Leaders Exchange Program which was deepening cooperation between the two countries' legislative bodies.

Defence and security cooperation

The Ministers welcomed the strengthened security cooperation which has resulted from the March 2009 Joint Statement on Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation between Australia and the Republic of Korea, and agreed that officials should begin work on drafting a broader statement of their common vision for peace and stability.

Ministers acknowledged the importance of conducting regular dialogue on security and defence issues impacting on the region. Ministers noted the important contribution that the annual Seoul Defence Dialogue for senior regional Defence officials makes to regional security and stability and they welcomed Minister Smith's announcement that Australia would host a 1.5 Track North East Asia Security and Defence Forum later in 2013 bringing together senior defence officials and academics from around North Asia, Australia and the United States.

The broadening bilateral defence relationship builds on the Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Defence Cooperation signed by Ministers Smith and Kim in Canberra, December 2011 and the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Korea on the Protection of Classified Military Information which entered into force in December 2010.

The Ministers also agreed that working together effectively between the two countries' defence organisations was vital to help enable Australia and the ROK to conduct operations together in the fields of maritime security, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Ministers agreed to increase the scope and sophistication of cooperation in joint exercises to work more effectively together to boost the skills and capabilities of both defence organisations. They welcomed agreement to hold the next bilateral maritime exercise Haedolli Wallaby in late 2014. They also agreed to consider expanding people-to-people links through training and dialogue exchanges, including between strategy, policy and military personnel, and over time to explore future opportunities for Australia-ROK science and technology cooperation in the field of defence.

The Ministers noted that the United Nations Command (UNC), of which Australia is a key member, will continue to play its important role of maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Australia applauded the Republic of Korea for demonstrating its commitment to non-proliferation by hosting the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Operational Experts Group meeting in September 2012. Ministers Kim and Yun expressed their appreciation for Australia's active participation at the PSI exercise, through the provision of a Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft.

The Korean-hosted Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in March 2012 demonstrated the ROK Government's nuclear security commitment at the highest level. The Ministers concurred that the Seoul NSS served as a meaningful opportunity to further bolster cooperation in the field of nuclear security. The Ministers looked forward to the Netherlands-hosted NSS in March 2014.

The Ministers stressed the need to enhance cooperation related to cyberspace and space security. Ministers Smith and Carr welcomed Korea's hosting of the Seoul Conference on Cyberspace 2013 as an important opportunity to take forward the international dialogue on norms.

The Ministers welcomed the historic adoption by the United Nations General Assembly in April 2013 of the Arms Trade Treaty and committed to work for its early entry into force.

The Ministers acknowledged that various forms of security and defence cooperation were taking place among countries in the region bilaterally and among more than two countries, and agreed that such efforts will contribute to confidence building among countries in the region and create a stable security environment in the region.

They also noted the vital roles of China, Japan, the United States and ASEAN in forging a strong and resilient region, and pledged to work with these countries to make constructive contributions to regional peace and prosperity. The Ministers undertook to encourage closer defence to defence relations across the region to enhance understanding and to facilitate confidence building.

The Ministers welcomed increased dialogue between security research institutions in both countries, such as the recent 1.5 track dialogues with a security focus between the Korean Institute for National Unification and Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

Regional Architecture and Global issues

The Ministers affirmed that Australia and the Republic of Korea would continue to work closely during their concurrent terms on the United Nations Security Council, to address global security issues.

The two countries committed to continuing to work closely to strengthen regional architecture to promote cooperation on political, security, economic and other challenges facing the region. They agreed on the importance of the continued development of ASEAN-centred forums in which ASEAN's dialogue partners, including Australia and the ROK, played an important role. They attached particular importance to the leader-level East Asia Summit (EAS) which could help manage strategic challenges. Both countries welcomed the useful discussions at the EAS Foreign Ministers' meeting and ASEAN Regional Forum in Brunei Darussalam on 2 July, including on maritime security and the Korean Peninsula. Ministers acknowledged the important role of the ASEAN Plus Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM Plus) as a vehicle to enhance practical military to military and defence to defence cooperation. They agreed also on the importance of continuing to work closely in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).

The Ministers also agreed that Korea and Australia, as middle powers with regional and global interests and leverage, would jointly seek to enhance regional and global stability and prosperity, in partnership with other key middle power countries.

The Ministers underscored the G20's role as the world's premier multilateral forum for financial and economic cooperation. Australia and the ROK are working together increasingly closely in the G20 as Australia's 2014 host year approaches, in order to boost growth and jobs, to maintain global financial stability, and to promote development.

The Ministers agreed to work together to support continued progress in multilateral climate change negotiations and to conclude by 2015 an agreement applicable to all UNFCC parties to come into effect from 2020. The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the establishment and successful operation of the Green Climate Fund and Global Green Growth Institute, both hosted by the Republic of Korea.

The Ministers called on the DPRK to take concrete steps to uphold the human rights of nine young people who were forcefully repatriated recently to North Korea, and uphold the human rights of all its citizens. The Ministers welcomed the establishment of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses in the DPRK.

Australia and the ROK also agreed on the importance of maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce, and the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They supported the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. They welcomed the ASEAN Chair's statement at the ASEAN Leaders' Summit in April.

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