Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith, Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel held trilateral defence ministerial talks in Singapore June 1 on the margins of the International Institute of Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue. This was the third meeting of its kind among the three nations' top defense officials.
The defence ministers exchanged views on the regional security situation, and share the recognition that North Korea constitutes a serious destabilizing factor for the entire East Asian region. They discussed opportunities for strengthening trilateral cooperative efforts, through information sharing, joint military training and exercise coordination. They will conduct a joint study on defence capacity building efforts in Southeast Asia and Oceania.
The three 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 our capacity to respond to regional challenges, including regional disasters, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, through increased practical cooperation.
- Promote freedom of navigation and maritime security in the region's sea lanes, and other international rights.
- Improve regional defence capacities to support long term regional peace and stability.
- As a stabilising regional presence, build confidence and encourage transparency within the region.
Building on these strategic goals, the three ministers pledged to continue progress on the action plan as agreed last year to promote a dynamic and flexible trilateral defence relationship in order to enhance the security and prosperity of the region.