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Establishment of Pol-Mil dialogue with Russia



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M EDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

-ijv AUSTRALIA,.^

FA102 27 July 1998

ESTABLISHMENT OF POL-MIL DIALOGUE WITH RUSSIA

I am delighted to announce today that Australia and Russia will hold regular high-level dialogues on security issues. Russian Foreign Minister Primakov and I have agreed on the establishment of Political-Military (Pol-Mil) talks between the two countries.

The establishment of the Pol-Mil talks will add a new layer to bilateral relations between Russia and Australia. The talks will allow the two countries to exchange views on key developments in the Asia Pacific security environment and on international security issues. They will complement both countries' interest in further strengthening multilateral dialogue on security issues through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). As the countries of the East Asia/Pacific region become increasingly interdependent - both strategically and economically - habits of dialogue and information exchange are essential in building trust and enhancing transparency.

The first round of the talks is likely to take place in October 1998. Senior officials from defence and foreign ministries in both countries will participate. The talks will focus on the main security issues and strategic challenges facing the Asia Pacific region and will also cover disarmament and nonĀ­ proliferation issues as well as the emerging regional security architecture, including the ARF.

Over the past two years the Australian Government had sought actively to expand Australia's network of security dialogues as a key plank in Australia's longer term regional security strategy. With the establishment of these Pol-Mil talks, Australia now has security links of one kind or another with most countries of the East Asia/Pacific region.

During last years ARF/ASEAN PMC I announced four new dialogues - with the Philippines, Thailand, China and Vietnam - to add to existing talks with Japan, the ROK, Indonesia and the US. This network of dialogues on regional security issues adds further depth and substance to Australia's regional engagement. The dialogues complement our more formal security linkages in the region, such as our alliance relationships with the US and with New Zealand, the Five Power

Defence Arrangements (Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, NZ and the UK) and our Agreement on Maintaining Security with Indonesia. They also complement our extensive defence cooperation activities with most countries in the region. They contribute to the building of trust and transparency between Australia and our neighbours on strategic issues.

I most recently visited Moscow in November 1997. Russia's status as both a European and an Asia Pacific power and a new member of APEC and the G8 (Russia is already a member of the ARF) reinforces the importance of further developing bilateral relations.

MANILA

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