1. On 13 October 2017, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Kang Kyung-wha, and the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Korea, Song Young-moo, hosted the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, and the Australian Minister for Defence, Marise Payne, in Seoul for the third Foreign and Defence Ministers’ 2+2 Meeting between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Australia.
2. The four Ministers affirmed the strength and vitality of the ROK-Australia partnership is based on a shared commitment to freedom and democracy and has enduring importance in the two countries’ national security, foreign and strategic policies. Building on the visions for the ROK-Australia partnership expressed in recent summit meetings and through the Joint Statements and Declarations, the four Ministers reaffirmed the strength of the partnership in the face of existing security threats and new and evolving regional and global challenges.
3. The four Ministers underscored that the two countries’ partnership along with the close ties between our peoples is a constant reminder of our shared sacrifice, common values, mutual interests, trust and deep friendship. The Ministers reiterated the commitment to cooperate to meet regional and global challenges based on the values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, as set forth in the 2009 Joint Statement on Enhanced Global and Security Cooperation and the 2014 Vision Statement. They welcomed the closer engagement between the ROK and Australia, which embodies the spirit of the 2015 Blueprint for Defence and Security Cooperation. They lauded the recent development in their partnership including the visit of the Korean president’s special envoy to Australia on June 19, 2017 and the summit meeting between the two countries’ leaders on the sidelines of the G20 on July 8 in Hamburg.
4. Ministers Julie Bishop and Marise Payne visited the War Memorial of Korea and paid tribute to the sacrifices made by Australian Defence Force personnel who served in the Korean War. Ministers Kang Kyung-wha and Song Young-moo noted the contribution of the Australian troops who fought in the Korean War under the United Nations Command.
5. The Ministers reiterated their shared resolve to promote regional peace and security. They reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance ROK-Australia bilateral cooperation through wide-ranging and close consultations, based on the annual ROK-Australia Deputy Minister-level Strategic Dialogue.
Recognizing that the latest dialogues served as an opportunity to increase substantive cooperation between the two countries, the Ministers decided to continue high-level strategic dialogues to create a favorable environment for regional security and prosperity and seek ways to sustain the momentum in growing areas of mutual interest.
6. The Ministers agreed that leaders should continue to discuss priority issues on a regular basis. Ministers also agreed on the importance of increased, regular leader-to-leader engagement, including reciprocal visits.
7. The Ministers recognised the positive role that close people-to-people links play in supporting the bilateral relationship, and agreed that initiatives, such as the New Colombo Plan, were welcome.
The Korean Peninsula
8. The Ministers strongly condemned the DPRK’s sixth nuclear test with an explosive yield much greater than previous tests and the multiple launches of ballistic missiles. They shared the view that the DPRK’s reckless and irresponsible behavior is a flagrant violation of UN Security Council resolutions and also a grave and serious challenge to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.
The Ministers agreed the international community must be united in sending an unequivocal message to North Korea that it will not be accepted as a nuclear weapons state. The Ministers agreed to pursue all necessary measures to force North Korea to fulfill its international obligations and commitments. The Ministers agreed that North Korea needed to refrain from provocative and destabilizing acts, and abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs as well as other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner.
The Ministers welcomed the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of Resolution 2375 in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, and reiterated their strong commitment to fully implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions. Furthermore, they stressed that denuclearization is the only path that can guarantee the DPRK’s security and economic development. In this regard, the Ministers emphasized that they, together with the international community, stand ready to re-engage with the DPRK, if it chooses the right path.
9. The Ministers exchanged their views on inter-Korean relations, and Ministers Julie Bishop and Marise Payne reaffirmed their strong support for actions and initiatives that would deliver peace and security to the Peninsula. ROK Ministers outlined the policy visions and the initiatives presented in the ‘Berlin Initiative’ which will advance inter-Korean relations and contribute to the peace, security and prosperity of the Korean Peninsula and beyond. They also discussed options for fostering peace on the Korean Peninsula as well as endeavors toward restoring inter-Korean dialogue, including relieving tension and resolving pressing humanitarian issues between the two Koreas.
Defence and Security Cooperation
10. Ministers welcomed the substantial increase in reciprocal senior level visits and dialogues in recent years. The third Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting builds on the annual Strategic Dialogue and the annual Defence Policy Talks that underlined their shared, deepening commitment to the security, stability and prosperity of the region. This commitment was reflected in Minister Payne’s keynote address to the Seoul Defence Dialogue held in September 2017, and the Ministers renewed their determination to strengthen security and defence cooperation.
11. The Ministers lauded the success of bilateral exercises conducted and underscored the importance of appropriate planning and combined exercises, thereby modernizing and deepening bilateral security and defence cooperation. As for the preparation for, and conduct of, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, based on the progress made in this area in regional fora, the Ministers will seek to enhance training and exercises, increase personnel exchanges and deepen bilateral cooperation. The Ministers further agreed that the on-going cooperation in counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden should be continued and strengthened.
12. The Ministers agreed that both defence forces should enhance the cooperation in preparing for peacekeeping operations and in exchanging personnel on the missions where both Australian and ROK personnel are deployed.
13. The Ministers reaffirmed their shared defence and security interests and that the two countries continue to work to address challenges posed by an increasingly uncertain and evolving strategic environment, including North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and the emergence of non-traditional security concerns, and other evolving threats.
14. In addition to the current close cooperation based on the Implementing Arrangement for Defence Education and Training, the Ministers agreed on a further increase in the number of the reciprocal attendances for defence education and training courses.
15. Ministers welcomed the increased level of engagement between Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration and the Agency for Defence Development with Australia’s Defence Science and Technology Group through a substantive number of reciprocal senior level visits over recent years. Ministers looked forward to the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding that will enable enhanced collaboration on defence science and technology between Australian and Korean defence research agencies.
16. In light of closer defence cooperation, Australia and the ROK decided to enhance joint efforts to facilitate our defence personnel to cooperate, engage, train and exercise together.
17. The Ministers applauded the role of the United Nations Command in contributing to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the ROK Ministers welcomed Australia’s continued participation.
18. The Ministers lauded the progress in bilateral defence cooperation and praised collective efforts to enhance interoperability and exercise a variety of communication channels to share information and coordinate responses. The Ministers appreciated the recent efforts to improve bilateral response capabilities through joint exercises, counter-piracy deployments, and combined anti-submarine warfare exercises.
19. Acknowledging their enhanced defence cooperation envisioned in the Blueprint, the Ministers recognized the importance of the ROK-Australia partnership in the region and beyond, emphasizing the two nations’ collaboration on a wide range of issues requiring a global response. Recognizing the diverse array of unconventional threats in today’s interconnected world, the Ministers welcomed the substantial progress in various issues including defence cooperation, counter-proliferation, transnational law enforcement, cyber security, counter-cyber crime, border security, crisis management, climate change, counter-terrorism, maritime safety, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance.
20. The Ministers highlighted the importance of the two countries’ mutually beneficial cooperation in arms control and counter- and non-proliferation. They reaffirmed the two countries’ shared commitment to strengthening the norms underpinning global efforts to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and illegal arms trade such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Arms Trade Treaty.
They welcomed the success of the Proliferation Security Initiative Exercise Pacific Protector hosted by Australia in September 2017. Australia expressed appreciation for ROK leadership as Chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime 2016-2017. Australia and ROK agreed to continue their close cooperation in the Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons controls and the Wassenaar Arrangement on conventional weapons.
The Ministers decided to hold bilateral consultations when needed to share information and enhance bilateral coordination and cooperation.
21. Reaffirming the shared views on the importance of human security issues, the Ministers welcomed the Australian Attorney-General’s Department and the ROK Ministry of the Interior and Safety’s decision to reinforce efforts to conclude an MOU to share information and bolster capacity on emergency management.
22. Australian and ROK maritime safety authorities will continue to cooperate in a range of areas which support safe, efficient and reliable shipping. This includes increased cooperation in the development of international standards and their effective implementation within the region.
23. The Ministers affirmed their joint commitment to promoting an international stability framework for cyberspace based on the application of existing international law, agreed voluntary norms of responsible state behaviour and confidence building measures.
The Ministers reaffirmed the two countries’ mutual commitment to cooperation to address the challenges of cyberspace such as cyber threats to critical infrastructure including those that may have originated in North Korea, and to enhance regional cyber capacity.
The Ministers reaffirmed their shared objective of an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable cyberspace. In this regard, they agreed to hold the ROK-Australia bilateral cyber policy dialogue on a regular basis, and agreed on the necessity of exploring further cooperative measures through the next dialogue.
They also decided to seek to strengthen the coordination between the two countries’ respective Computer Emergency Response Teams by holding a technical discussion workshop to enhance the ROK and Australia’s respective understanding of the cyber security threat landscape.
24. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue their coordination on their respective efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism including in the region, while expressing strong support for relevant efforts by the international community to address those threats.
Sharing the view that dialogue on counter-terrorism policy enables the two sides to work together to advance cooperation in this area in support of the ROK-Australia partnership, the Ministers decided that counter-terrorism would be discussed as part of existing engagement frameworks, including the ROK-Australia Deputy Minister-level Strategic Dialogue in 2018.
25. The Korean National Police Agency and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) will increase the number of placements for personnel exchange, training and education, and seek to broaden and deepen the scope of the cooperation program including on counter-terrorism.
The Australian Government and the ROK are committed to enhancing law enforcement cooperation and coordination in the region, particularly in regard to transnational crime and counter-terrorism. The AFP and Korean law enforcement agencies have a cooperative level of engagement through the AFP’s Hong Kong Liaison Office.
26. The ROK and Australia will enhance cooperation on the Pacific, as part of existing engagement frameworks including the high level consultations on development cooperation, including on issues such as climate change and maritime governance.
Regional and Global Architecture
27. Taking into account that the regional stability and prosperity from which all countries had benefited depends on strong and structured regional architecture, the Ministers agreed that the ROK-Australia partnership continues to play a key role in upholding and promoting the international rules-based order in the broader Asia-Pacific regional security architecture.
28. Ministers agreed that as significant economies and contributors to regional security both nations have a shared interest in peace and stability. The Ministers agreed to work collaboratively in support of the goals of regional initiatives and organisations, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other regional mechanisms such as the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).
The Ministers affirmed their shared commitment to the EAS as the premier regional forum for discussion of strategic, political and economic issues of common interest and concern. They committed to deepening cooperation to strengthen the EAS’s role in promoting peace, stability and economic prosperity in East Asia.
Ministers welcomed the adoption of the 2016 EAS Statement on Non-Proliferation as an example of their commitment to regional non-proliferation and welcomed the convening of an EAS Seminar on Non-Proliferation in the Indo-Pacific to implement the Statement in Melbourne on 16-17 October.
Ministers highlighted the significant role the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) has in promoting multilateral defence engagement, fostering practical military cooperation, and importantly, mitigating risks of miscalculation.
29. The Ministers also acknowledged that MIKTA – the group of pivotal powers comprising Mexico, Indonesia, Korea, Turkey and Australia – has emerged as a unique and innovative way to strengthen international frameworks and norms that promote international security and global governance. Since its formation in 2013, MIKTA Foreign Ministers have met 10 times and established increasingly meaningful patterns of consultation and cooperation. The Ministers welcomed MIKTA Foreign Ministers’ commitment to cooperate with like-minded countries to improve global governance, including through the Sustaining Peace agenda in the United Nations.
30. Australia and the ROK reiterated their intention to continue to promote maritime security and safety in accordance with international law including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Ministers reiterated their concerns about developments in the South China Sea and emphasized the importance of non-militarisation and reducing tensions by refraining from activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability. The Ministers re-emphasized the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.
The Ministers underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety. At the same time, the Ministers called for an effective and legally binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, in accordance with international law.
31. Both sides reaffirmed their strong commitment to effective global action on climate change through their support for the Paris Agreement and its implementation.
32. Australia expressed its appreciation for the ROK’s support for its Human Rights Council candidacy for the term 2018-2020. If successful at the election on 16 October, Australia and the ROK look forward to serving jointly on the Council in 2018, and further strengthening cooperation on human rights issues.
33. The four Ministers conveyed their common vision for security and stability in the region, as well as their shared ideals for global peace and prosperity. Guided by mutual values that have opened new frontiers for collaboration, they reaffirmed their commitment to continue to deepen, develop, and advance the partnership to its full potential. Australian Foreign and Defence Ministers thanked their Korean counterparts for extending warm hospitality and for effectively organizing this Meeting. The four Ministers agreed to hold the next 2+2 meeting in Australia in 2019.