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Australia expanding defence relationship with India, says Australian Deputy PM at Shangri-La dialogue

Singapore: Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has said that Australia is expanding its defence relationships with India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam and other partners in Southeast Asia.

Speaking at Plenary Session 3: Building Cooperative Security in the Asia-Pacific at the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Marles stated that Australia is deepening its alliance with the US, including through enhanced force posture cooperation in Australia.

Marles, who is also Australia's Defence Minister, said, "Australia is deepening its alliance with the United States, including through enhanced force posture cooperation in Australia, as we welcome recent US force posture enhancements in Japan, the Philippines and elsewhere."

"But Australia is also expanding its defence relationships with Japan, Korea, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and other partners in Southeast Asia. These relationships have in fact have never been stronger, reflecting how we are all making choices about how to strengthen regional resilience," he added.

Richard Marles noted that this network effect has to have a strong multilateral dimension as well and termed ASEAN key to this. He also spoke about Australia commemorating 50 years as ASEAN's first dialogue partner during the special summit held in Melbourne in March.

He further said, "ASEAN cohesion has constituted one of the greatest strategic assets for the region over the past half-century. Long may it continue to do so."

Notably, India is one of Australia's most important Indo-Pacific partners, with the relationship characterised by strong people-to-people links and close cooperation at all levels of government, according to Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade statement.

Stressing that a global rules-based order at its core is a 200-year project to build a global system that is open and inclusive, Australia's Defence Minister Richard Marles said, "The global rules-based order is not a just a device - as some would cynically suggest - to protect the prerogatives of great powers and to prevent the rise of new ones. Rather, at its core is a two-hundred-year project to build a global system that is open and inclusive."

"An order that is based on rules as much as it is on power, and which seeks to balance the concepts of sovereignty and territorial integrity with the ideas of individual liberty and equality. And the global rules-based order is not just a "Western project". Many thinkers from China, India, Africa and from across the Global South have been central to its formation," he added.

He noted that the global rules-based order despite its imperfections has come to oversee human activity across the world as diverse as nuclear non-proliferation, managing global financial risk, and international transport by sea and air.

Marles stressed that the global rules-based order is "under increasing pressure" and they "cannot take the peace and prosperity of our region for granted." He stated that the pressure has increased over the past year and mentioned the Israel-Hamas war that is taking place in Gaza. He stated that Australia calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, and unconditional release of hostages, increasing humanitarian relief for the civilians of Gaza.

In his speech, Australian Deputy PM said, "With increasing horror and grief we have watched the unfolding tragedy in Israel and Gaza. When Hamas executed its horrific act of violence on October 7 it was aiming to stymy an accord between Israel and the leading Arab powers. In the process the hopes of a two-state solution have become much more distant. To be clear, in Australia's view, it is imperative that Hamas not succeed.

"We call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the unconditional release of hostages, increased humanitarian relief for the civilians of Gaza, and steps towards a two-state solution in which Israel and Palestine live in peace together within agreed borders," he added.

He stated that Australia must comply with the binding orders of the International Court of Justice. He said, "As our recent vote at the UN General Assembly demonstrates, Australia seeks to build momentum for this goal alongside our regional partners."

"We have been clear that all parties must comply with international humanitarian law. Israel must comply with the binding orders of the International Court of Justice, including to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance at scale," he added.

The Shangri-La Dialogue serves as Asia's premier annual defence summit, convening government leaders, senior officials, experts, and business icons to foster cooperation and address regional security challenges. 

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