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Australia still supports ASEAN

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Australia still supports ASEAN
Ambassador Will Nankervis said Australia is committed to continuing to foster a peaceful, secure region with the ASEAN at its center and to complementing and strengthening the existing ASEAN-led architecture.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The new Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) partnership agreement does not change Australia’s commitment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or support for its regional architecture, according to Australia’s ambassador to ASEAN.

Ambassador Will Nankervis said Australia is committed to continuing to foster a peaceful, secure region with the ASEAN at its center and to complementing and strengthening the existing ASEAN-led architecture.

As the group’s oldest Dialogue Partner, he noted that Australia is a committed supporter of ASEAN centrality, supporting an open, inclusive and prosperous region.

“Our commitment to ASEAN centrality remains as steadfast as ever following the announcement that we will create an enhanced security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States that will allow us to better share technology and capability. It is not a defense alliance or pact,” Nankervis stressed.

For the first initiative under the AUKUS partnership, Australia will build a nuclear-powered submarine fleet, leveraging expertise from the US and UK.

“While these submarines will be nuclear powered, they will not carry nuclear weapons. Australia does not and will not seek such weapons. Nor do we seek to establish a civil nuclear capability,” Nankervis said.

According to him, Australia remains staunch in its support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty and vowed to work closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency to “ensure full compliance with our obligations as a non-nuclear weapon state.”

“We remain committed to reinforcing international confidence in the integrity of the international non-proliferation regime, and to upholding our global leadership in this domain,” he added.

The Philippines supports the establishment of the enhanced trilateral security alliance with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. saying in a statement that the AUKUS will further enhance Australia’s military capacity, noting its proximity in Southeast Asia to respond quickly to threats and challenges in the region.

The enhancement of Australia’s ability to project power, Locsin said, will restore and keep the balance, noting that “there is an imbalance in the forces available” to ASEAN members.

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