Joint Statement: Australia-Republic of Korea Foreign and Defence Ministers’ 2+2 Meeting 2021
- On 13 September 2021, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Chung Eui-yong, and the Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Korea, Suh Wook, hosted the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, and the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, in Seoul for the fifth Foreign and Defence Ministers' 2+2 Meeting between the Republic of Korea (ROK) and Australia.
- Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the ROK and Australia, the four ministers reaffirmed that the ROK and Australia have developed strong cooperative relations in a wide range of sectors, underpinned by the shared values of freedom, democracy, universal human rights and rule of law, as well as mutual respect, trust and close people-to-people ties, and a commitment to an open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.
- The ministers welcomed the agreement between the two Leaders at their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit held in Cornwall on June 12 to upgrade the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The ministers also recognized the value of regular consultation between the two countries through various channels, in providing opportunities to discuss the regional security outlook and explore new areas of cooperation, and highlighted the importance of increased engagement, including reciprocal visits between the ministers of the two countries.
- Both sides underscored that all countries should work together to overcome the pandemic and commended their respective contributions to COVAX AMC to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for developing countries. Both sides also reaffirmed the role of multilateral health system such as the World Health Organization in preventing potential future pandemics and crises, and committed to cooperation both at bilateral and multilateral levels to enhance capacity to respond to infectious disease in the region.
- Both sides emphasized the importance of coordinating closely on enhancing vaccine access and delivery, including in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and committed to further cooperate to increase the global vaccine supply, including through options to cooperate on research and development in vaccine technologies. Both sides also recognized that the close ties between the two countries had been strengthened through active people-to-people exchanges and agreed to make efforts to revitalize our exchanges as soon as the COVID-19 situation stabilizes.
- Minister Chung and Minister Payne reaffirmed the need to strengthen the bilateral partnership to manage the shared new challenges of the two countries, and agreed to advance mutually reinforcing and future-oriented cooperation in a wide range of areas encompassing pandemic response, post-COVID-19 economic recovery, climate change, and enhancing the already robust trade relationship.
- Minister Chung and Minister Payne welcomed Leader-level agreement to strengthen cooperation in the field of low emissions technology by establishing a Low Emissions Technology Partnership on all areas pertaining to low emission technologies, including on hydrogen and clean steel, and agreed to identify and expand mutually beneficial cooperation.
- Minister Chung and Minister Payne signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Cyber and Critical Technology Cooperation, to elevate existing cooperation and formalize regular bilateral Cyber and Critical Technology Policy Dialogues, building on the earlier Cyber Policy Dialogue. Minister Chung and Minister Payne agreed to hold the inaugural Cyber and Critical Technology Policy Dialogue between senior officials in the near future.
- Minister Chung and Minister Payne agreed to establish a new bilateral Space Policy Dialogue, focused on norm development in multilateral institutions and future bilateral space cooperation. Through these annual talks, Australia and the ROK will contribute to shaping a safe, secure, and sustainable space domain.
- Recognizing that climate change is a serious challenge for the international community, Minister Chung and Minister Payne agreed to cooperate to reach each country's respective 2030 greenhouse gas reduction and global carbon neutrality targets, and to support developing countries' response to climate change and to conserve biodiversity.
- Minister Chung and Minister Payne reaffirmed the importance of resilient supply chains amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Ministers welcomed the work underway to establish the ROK-Australia Critical Mineral Working Group and agreed to support the development of critical minerals supply chains essential for renewable energy technologies and advanced manufacturing.
- Minister Chung and Minister Payne reaffirmed the value of the Korea-Australia Free Trade Agreement in strengthening the trade and investment partnership between the two countries, and agreed to examine options to further expand and diversify our economic relationship as a central part of elevating the bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
- Minister Chung and Minister Payne welcomed the revitalization of the Joint Economic Committee (between Foreign Ministries), reflecting our mutual desire to collaborate on economic security issues, bilateral and regional trade, and economic trends, as well as to expand cooperation in multilateral fora to promote an open and rules-based multilateral trading system.
Defence and Security Cooperation
- Both the ROK and Australian defence and foreign ministers, noting shared defence and security interests, agreed to cooperate on existing and evolving security threats in a strategic environment with increasing uncertainties.
- Minister Suh and Minister Dutton, in consideration of increased defence cooperation since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation between the ROK and Australia in 2011, agreed to explore new institutional foundations to promote enhanced future defence cooperation.
- Minister Suh and Minister Dutton acknowledged the progress made on defence industry and materiel cooperation, including the resumption of Joint Defence Industry and Materiel Committee. Both the ROK and Australia recognized that leveraging on the strengths of each other's domestic defence industrial bases would contribute to their security and resilience in meeting future security challenges.
- Both foreign and defence ministers welcomed the selection of a Korean company as the preferred supplier for the Australian Army's LAND 8116 Phase 1 (Protected Mobile Fires) self-propelled artillery project and agreed that this would lead to a closer relationship between our armies in the areas of self-propelled artillery.
- Minister Suh and Minister Dutton welcomed the recent signing of the Memorandum of Understanding concerning Mutual Logistics Support and Cooperation, which laid the foundation for promoting logistic exchanges and cooperation between the ROK and Australia as well as facilitating mutual logistic support during joint training and exercises.
- Minister Suh and Minister Dutton have also agreed to increase joint exercises, training, port calls and aircraft visits in order to improve interoperability, enhance mutual understanding and build solid people-to-people links between the ROK Armed Forces and Australian Defence Force. Furthermore, they recognized the ROK's inaugural participation in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021 and looked forward to building upon this in future iterations.
- Minister Suh and Minister Dutton recognized that the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation in 2019 has enabled robust research and technology cooperation between the ROK and Australia. Both ministers looked forward to strengthening collaboration in the field of defence science and technology, including cooperation with other allies and partners such as the recently signed ROK-USA-AUS Trilateral Framework on Defence Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation.
- Minister Suh and Minister Dutton recognized that the Memorandum of Understanding regarding Cooperation related to Missing Korean War Personnel signed during the fourth Australia-ROK 2+2 Ministerial Meeting in 2019 has facilitated DNA sharing which will contribute to our combined attempts to recover and identify Australian personnel missing from the Korean War.
- Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening bilateral defence cooperation on peacekeeping operations. Minister Dutton and Minister Payne welcomed the fourth UN Peacekeeping Ministerial to be held in Seoul in December, 2021 and agreed on close coordination in support of the success of the meeting. Both Ministers also recognized the commitment made at the 2019 Australia-ROK 2+2 Ministerial Meeting to mainstream gender perspectives in military training, operational environments for peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and agreed to continue to promote the Women, Peace and Security agenda in all forums.
- Minister Suh and Minister Dutton undertook to keep sharing experiences in supporting the fight against COVID-19 during major multilateral security meetings such as ADMM-Plus and the Seoul Defence Dialogue which, both acknowledged, would provide valuable opportunities to discuss the military's role in responding to future unconventional security crises.
The Korean Peninsula
- Ministers emphasized that complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula will lead to peace and prosperity in the region. Minister Payne and Minister Dutton expressed their support for the ROK's efforts to advance inter-Korean dialogue, engagement, and cooperation.
- The four ministers welcomed the commitment of the United States and the ROK in pursuing diplomacy with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and urged the DPRK to engage in meaningful dialogue without preconditions. Ministers also reaffirmed their ongoing support for dialogue and diplomacy, based on previous agreements such as the 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, Pyongyang Joint Declaration, and Singapore Joint Statement, and emphasized that these are essential to the complete denuclearization and establishment of permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
- Expressing concerns about the DPRK's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of all countries faithfully implementing relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.
- The Ministers noted that the United Nations Command's maintenance of the Armistice Agreement and the inter-Korean Comprehensive Military Agreement contributed to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. The ROK Ministers welcomed Australia's essential contribution in the United Nations Command.
Regional and Global Cooperation
- As mature, likeminded democracies, Australia and the ROK are natural partners with shared strategic interests. Australia and the ROK seek to shape a region where states cooperate on shared interests and resolve disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, where sovereignty is respected, and where the flow of goods, people and ideas promotes prosperity and stability.
- The four ministers acknowledged the synergies between the ROK's New Southern Policy and Australia's approach to the Indo-Pacific and agreed to continue close communication to realize our common vision for the region, including through annual senior officials' talks.
- The ministers reaffirmed their support for ASEAN centrality, ASEAN-led regional architecture, and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific region, and committed to continue developing our cooperation across the areas of health, infrastructure, economic recovery, maritime security, regional connectivity, and Mekong water management capacity-building, following the inaugural dialogue on our support for Southeast Asia and ASEAN held in February 2021. The ministers also recognized that the two countries have been communicating closely on our cooperation in Southeast Asia through such platforms as the ROK-Australia Vaccine Forum. Ministers agreed to articulate how we intend to expand our support for Southeast Asian partners, including through the delivery of a Joint Leaders' Statement at the East Asia Summit.
- The ministers recognized the importance of our respective alliance relationships with the United States in contributing to our own national security, and that these relationships are part of a network of alliances and partnerships that underpin broader regional stability and prosperity. They emphasized their support for the United States' deep and long-term commitment to the Indo-Pacific across economic, development, health, diplomatic, security and other domains.
- Reaffirming their commitment to deepen partnerships with Pacific Island countries and support the Pacific region's economic recovery and resilience, ministers noted the need for stable, inclusive Pacific architecture to facilitate regional collaboration, and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperation with Pacific Island countries in areas such as health, infrastructure, disaster response, and maritime capacity-building.
- The four ministers exchanged views about developments in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea. They underscored the importance of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea and that all disputes should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Ministers called for the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea to be consistent with international law, not prejudice the rights and interests of third parties, and reinforce existing inclusive regional architecture.
- Expressing deep concern at the political, security, human rights, and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the ministers underscored the importance of a new governance model in Afghanistan being inclusive and representative. Afghan authorities must permit safe passage including of foreign citizens and visa holders; respect human rights, particularly for women and girls, minorities and human rights defenders; and should not harbor terrorists or their support networks.
- The four ministers expressed grave concern about the situation in Myanmar and called for an immediate cessation of violence and utmost restraint by all parties. Ministers committed to continue to urge the release of those being arbitrarily detained, including foreigners. The ministers welcomed the appointment of Minister of Foreign Affairs II of Brunei Darussalam Erywan Yusof as Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar and emphasized their support for ASEAN-led efforts to restore democracy, peace and stability in Myanmar. They called on the military regime to engage meaningfully with ASEAN to fully and effectively implement ASEAN's Five-Point Consensus. The ministers also expressed concern about the growing humanitarian crisis in Myanmar, including the very serious COVID-19 situation.
- Ministers welcomed Leader-level endorsement of the Open Societies Statement that was adopted at the 2021 G7 Summit, which reaffirms our shared cooperation in support of open societies, democratic values and multilateralism.
- Ministers expressed strong commitment to promoting and protecting universal human rights, and agreed to support the United Nations and other international organizations in their efforts to promote and protect human rights across the Indo-Pacific. Ministers also affirmed their shared commitment to promoting gender equality and women's economic empowerment and agreed to share respective approaches and lessons-learned on budget supports, women in STEM, and Women, Peace and Security.
- The ministers underscored the importance of the free and rules-based multilateral trading system in dealing with the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19, and the importance of strengthening global economic resilience in the wake of the pandemic and in response to the increasing use of unfavourable protectionist measures. Ministers recognise that these measures undermine the rules-based international trading system and committed to continue to closely work together at multilateral level, including at the WTO, APEC, G20 and OECD. The ministers also welcomed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) signed in November 2020, and looked forward to strengthening regional economic cooperation by implementation of the agreement.
- The ministers highlighted the role of MIKTA – as a diverse and cross-regional consultative group – in enhancing multilateral cooperation and supporting a strong, rules-based international order, and committed to further strengthening MIKTA cooperation under the chairmanship of Australia in 2021.
- The four ministers reaffirmed the importance of close cooperation between the two countries, as leading liberal democracies in the face of a variety of global and regional challenges and a rapidly changing security environment, committed to expand cooperation into various areas such as digital trade, artificial intelligence, and green energy, and agreed to hold the next 2+2 meeting in Australia in 2023.