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Albanese: ASEAN greatly valuable to Australia

by Adrian David

MELBOURNE, 8 MARCH –  Australia lauded Asean’s central role in the Indo-Pacific region’s prosperity and security, the past fifty years.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese affirmed that more than any other part of the world, South East Asia was where Australia’s destiny lied.

He hoped the strong ties with the Association of South-East Nations would continue to articulate their common vision and affirm their belief, for the next 50 years.

“We should position ourselves and our partnership, so that we can seize and shape the opportunities transforming the region that all of us call home.

“This is to ensure that ours is ‘A Partnership for the Future’, anchored in enduring friendship and trust.

“We want to see the ambition of our ‘Comprehensive Strategic Partnership’ realised in a new, deeper and more diversified engagement with Asean.

“This will enable Asean and Australian consumers and businesses to access new products and new markets,” Albanese said at the ‘Asean-Australia Special Summit 2024’ in Victoria.

His co-chair was Laotian Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, whose country is the Asean chairman.

Albanese highlighted the longstanding and rich friendship with Laos, following the memorable visit to Australia by Sonexay’s father, then-Prime Minister Khamtai Siphandone, almost 30 years ago.

He hoped Sonexay would continue his father’s legacy and promote the Asean chairman’s chosen theme of ‘Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience’.

Albanese stressed that achieving a ‘net zero’ in the region would guarantees regional energy security, underwrite national economic sovereignty and bring a new wave of clean energy trade and investment.

“We must work to turn our natural connections into even greater practical cooperation: on marine sustainability, the blue economy, and the security of our oceans and seas.

“And our commitment to the future – in the best traditions of Asean – means encouraging and educating the next generation of emerging leaders.

“In all this, Australia commits to working with you to make sure the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality and independence are upheld.

“This is to ensure our region is secure, resilient, open, inclusive and prosperous,” said Albanese.

He reminded leaders that the regional architecture, with Asean at its centre, was vital in pursuing the goals, and for promoting trust and transparency among their nations.

“Australia is fully committed to cooperating with you within the framework of Asean and through crucial bodies like the East Asia Summit and APEC,” he said, hoping Asean leaders would have a deeper understanding of Australia’s commitment to the region and the optimism for its future.

That is why, he said, they would continue to support the ‘Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific’ and ensure the stability and peace of their region.

He outlined four key themes which would shape the Asean-Australia partnership for the future: trade and investment, climate and clean energy transition, maritime cooperation and emerging leadership.

The four themes, he said, were reflected throughout the Melbourne Declaration that the summit had adopted.

“This is the breadth of our agenda.

“The shared prosperity we can achieve through closer trade and investment; the shared opportunity we have to act on climate and embrace clean energy, the shared responsibility we have to deepen our maritime cooperation and our shared faith in our emerging leaders.

“And the engagement we have had, leading into this summit, across these four themes – from business, academia, civil society and government – show how much potential there is for even stronger partnership between Australia and Asean,” Albanese summed up. – airtimes.my

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