Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, held Trilateral Defence Ministerial talks in Singapore yesterday in the margins of the Shangri-La Dialogue.
This was only the third Ministerial level meeting of its kind among the three nations’ Defence Ministers.
Ministers exchanged views on regional security situation and recognised that North Korea constitutes a serious destabilising factor for the Korean Peninsular and the region generally.
Ministers discussed opportunities for strengthening trilateral cooperative efforts, through information sharing and joint military training and exercise coordination.
Ministers asked officials to conduct a joint study on defence capacity building efforts in Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Ministers outlined the following strategic goals for trilateral cooperation:
- Build a community of interest in the region that promotes peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, and that establishes defence cooperation as a regional norm.
- Strengthen each nation’s capacity to respond to regional challenges, including regional disasters and the provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, through increased practical cooperation.
- Promote freedom of navigation and maritime security in the region's sea lanes.
- Improve regional defence capacities to support long term regional peace and stability.
- Build confidence and encourage transparency within the region.
Building on these strategic goals, Ministers agreed to develop an action plan that promotes a trilateral defence relationship that helps enhance the security and prosperity of the region.
Trilateral defence cooperation between Australia, Japan and the United States has grown steadily in recent years.
The Trilateral Strategic Dialogue was inaugurated at Senior Officials level in 2002 and the first Trilateral Strategic Dialogue at Foreign Ministers level was held in 2006.
I attended the second Trilateral Defence Ministers' Dialogue during last year’s Shangri-La Dialogue with then US Secretary of Defense Panetta and Japanese Senior Vice Minister for Defence Watanabe.
Defence officials first held the trilateral Security and Defence Cooperation Forum in 2007.
Minister Smith's office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528