Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd will today travel to Singapore and the Philippines.
Singapore is Australia’s largest trading partner in the ASEAN region with two-way trade of over $21 billion, and a key defence partner including through the Five Power Defence Arrangements.
The Philippines is ASEAN’s second most populous country and is on track to overtake Japan as Asia’s fifth largest country by 2025. It is an increasingly significant partner for Australia in regional security and counter-terrorism with enormous long-term economic potential.
Mr Rudd will meet senior Ministers in both countries in advance of the Leaders’ meeting of the East Asia Summit (EAS) to be held in Bali on 19 November. The visits come early in the term of the newly elected Singapore government and as the Aquino administration settles into its six-year term with an ambitious reform agenda.
“This year is critical in cementing the East Asia Summit as the premier institution to cooperate on the full range of political, security and economic challenges confronting the region. As major trading and maritime countries, we share common goals for the EAS in maritime security in particular.”
In Singapore on Thursday, Mr Rudd will also discuss with Foreign Minister Shanmugam the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting to be held in Perth, including how to address the most serious challenges facing Commonwealth countries such as food security, climate change, sustainable economic growth, health and education.
In the Philippines, Mr Rudd’s meetings with President Aquino and Foreign Secretary Del Rosario will build on the third Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting held in Canberra earlier this year. Under discussion will be improved cooperation on disaster response, and further consolidating the strong defence and counter-terrorism cooperation.
Mr Rudd’s visit to Manila also comes in the wake of recent typhoons that have claimed over 100 lives in the Philippines.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the Philippine Government and people for their losses. Australia is committed to international cooperation to respond to natural disasters, and has recently committed up to a million dollars for the Philippines Red Cross to assist people with the terrible flooding.”
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