Today I joined my counterparts from Indonesia, other ASEAN members, and partner countries at the High-Level Dialogue on Indo-Pacific Cooperation to discuss how we can all work together to promote a secure, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
At the forefront of our minds was the horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch last Friday. All delegates joined to remember the innocent victims of the senseless atrocity. I conveyed my profound sympathies, and those of all Australians, directly to my New Zealand counterpart and good friend, the Rt Hon Winston Peters MP, and thanked him for his leadership following the attacks. We are reminded of the imperative that we all work for an Indo-Pacific region of peace, stability and prosperity for all.
As many delegates highlighted, we live in a region undergoing significant transformation, which brings opportunity, but also challenges to the stability and prosperity that has characterised our region for decades.
Given this, Australia welcomes Indonesia’s leadership on this important initiative to develop an ASEAN Indo-Pacific vision. We support the key principles that are emerging for that vision – openness, transparency, inclusivity, the rules based framework, respect for international law, sovereignty and ASEAN centrality. These principles have a long history in ASEAN, and many are drawn out in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, of which Australia is a proud signatory.
While ASEAN’s consideration of an Indo-Pacific outlook is ongoing, it was encouraging to begin this dialogue in such a constructive way. There was much support for ASEAN developing an Indo-Pacific outlook, and growing consensus around the principles which would underpin it.
To advance practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, participants at the Dialogue also discussed how to work better together on maritime security, the Sustainable Development Goals, and infrastructure and connectivity. Building cohesion across our region in these three important domains will serve to enhance security, stability and prosperity for all countries.
After the Dialogue, I visited the Istiqlal Mosque, Indonesia’s national mosque and the largest in Southeast Asia, to meet with the Chair of the Istiqlal Mosque Council, Asep Saepudin, and renew Australia’s commitment to religious freedom.
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