Australia, Japan and USA up for free, peaceful and democratic Indo-Pacific

BYYasir Rehman


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Australia, Japan and United States of America has reiterated their commitment to working toward a free, open, peaceful, stable, democratic and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

Three countries have also emphasized the importance of demilitarization of disputed features, resolving disputes peacefully, without the threat or use of force.

The critical issues were discussed when Foreign Minister of Japan, Taro Kono,  Secretary of State for the United States of America, Michael R. Pompeo, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Senator Marise Payne, met in Thailand on August 1, 2019, for the ninth ministerial meeting of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD).

The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of the trilateral strategic partnership and of deepening coordination among Japan, the United States and Australia. They reiterated their commitment to working proactively together to maintain and promote a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region.

They reaffirmed their commitment to working with other countries to uphold a rules-based order, including to ensure that: disputes are resolved peacefully in accordance with international law and without the threat or use of force; states are resilient to coercion; freedom of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the sea are upheld; and markets remain open.

The Ministers noted the achievements of ASEAN in fostering regional peace and prosperity, including through its role as the convener of the regional security architecture. The Ministers reaffirmed their strong support for ASEAN centrality and unity, and underlined the value of the East Asia Summit (EAS) as the region’s premier Leaders-led forum for addressing strategic, political, and security challenges.

The Ministers shared their intention to further strengthen trilateral cooperation to promote the security, stability, resilience, and economic and governance development of countries throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

The Ministers shared their intention to enhance their engagement with the Pacific Island countries, including through high-level exchanges and greater economic collaboration.

They emphasized their determination to further strengthen their collaboration to support the region’s economic and social resilience, stability, and prosperity.

The Ministers also shared their intention to coordinate support for the Japan-led training program for maritime law enforcement at the University of the South Pacific. The Ministers reiterated the commitment of the three nations to continue coordinating their respective assistance programs, in consultation with partners, and to identifying ways they can collaborate more closely in the future.

The Ministers discussed their respective efforts to support the stability, prosperity and resilience of Southeast Asia, including through maritime and other security cooperation, and infrastructure development. They also discussed their respective initiatives to promote sustainable development in the Mekong sub-region and ways to complement each other’s efforts in the sub-region.

The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the international community’s goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), in accordance with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

In this regard, the Ministers expressed support for U.S. diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving the final, fully verified denuclearization of the DPRK and called on the DPRK to take immediate, significant and concrete steps towards denuclearization and resume negotiations with the United States toward that goal.

The Ministers noted the DPRK’s potential to be a prosperous and successful member of the region. The Ministers called on all members of the international community to fully implement UNSC resolutions and combat sanctions evasion.

The Ministers encouraged the DPRK to take further action toward fulfilling all of its commitments in the U.S.-DPRK Joint Statement, including complete denuclearization. The Ministers also called on the DPRK to end human rights violations and abuses and to resolve the Japanese abductions issue immediately.

The Ministers voiced strong opposition to coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions such as land reclamation, construction of outposts, militarization of disputed features and other actions that cause permanent physical change to the marine environment in areas pending delimitation.

The Ministers expressed concern about credible reports of disruptive activities in relation to long-standing oil and gas projects in the SCS.

The Ministers underscored the importance of the July 2016 Philippines-China Arbitral Tribunal’s award, and noted that the Tribunal’s award is final and legally binding for the two parties.

The Ministers emphasized the importance of demilitarization of disputed features, resolving disputes peacefully, without the threat or use of force and in accordance with international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and full respect for freedom of navigation and overflight and other lawful uses of the seas in the SCS and around the world.

The Ministers shared their intention to remain in close communication about the situation in the East China Sea and expressed strong opposition to any coercive unilateral actions that seek to alter the status quo and increase tensions in the area.

The Ministers decided to deepen practical cooperation to better deter, mitigate, attribute, and counter malicious cyber activity, and provide clear and consistent messages of the consequences of such activities.

The Ministers discussed ways to deepen cooperation to counter terrorism and violent extremism, including through Trilateral Strategic Dialogue Counterterrorism Consultations, information-sharing, and working together in regional fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), and in international fora such as the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).

The Ministers directed officials to explore possible new areas of practical and complementary efforts in the Indo-Pacific region, including supporting good governance, transparency, rule of law, and human rights. The Ministers committed to meeting regularly, and to deepening cooperation with each other, and with partners, to promote a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.

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