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Value of Five-Power Defence Arrangements and SEATO reafirmed



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DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

EWS RELEASE NO. M/22 13 March 1972

VALUE OF FIVE-POWER DEFENCE ARRANGEMENTS AND SEATO REAFFIRMED

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Bowen, reaffirmed

in Sydney today, the continuing value which the Australian Government

attaches to the 5-Power Defence Arrangements and SEATO. Besides

contributing to Australia's security these arrangements are a practical

expression of the Government's willingness to contribute to regional

security and confidence.

Mr Bowen was commenting on reports from Singapore that the

Member for St George, Mr Morrison, had said that SEXTO was totally

irrelevant and that the 5-Power Defence Arrangements were also

"fairly irrelevant". Mr Bowen said Mr Morrison's comments were

irresponsible.

The 5-Power Defence Arrangements and SEATO rested on mutual

good faith and could not be unilaterally and lightly discarded.

Mr Bowen said Mr Morrison's reported remarks were based on

the assumption that following President Nixon's visit to,Peking

South-East Asia will not be an area of potential conflict or confrontation.

The Australian Government welcomed President Nixon's visit '

to Peking and it hoped that improved relations between the United States

and the Peoples Republic of China would contribute to stability in the

Asian and Pacific region. But it would be naive to assume that

stability had already been achieved by the visit.

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„ The Minister pointed out that in the communique itself

issued by President Nixon and Premier Chou En lai the Chinese had

reiterated their support for National Liberation Movements everywhere.

There is no contradiction between the 5-Power Arrangements

and the aim of the neutralisation of South-East Asia.

The Minister said that the presence of Australian forces

was a contribution to the confidence of the countries in the region.

They were intended to emphasise our interest in defence co-operation

and in the security of the region. They were also seen ase a stabilising

factor there.

The Government's information is that countries in the area

do value the presence of Australian forces and would be concerned if

they were to be withdrawn from Malaysia and Singapore.

• Although SEATO has undergone some changes in outlook since

it was entered into, it continues to provide an important framework

for co-operation between Australia and the active parties to itj

particularly Thailand and the Philippines. It is in fact our only

security arrangement with these two countries.

The Minister added that since President Nixon's visit to

Peking, the Secretary of State, Mr Rogers, had firmly restated to the

American Congress the importance the United States continues to attach

to both SEATO and ANZUS. He had also welcomed the 5-Power Defence.

Arrangements as an important development and a valuable link in

• regional security in South-East Asia.