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Thursday, 10 March 1966

I have been speaking about our relations with Asia through the medium of economic and technical aid and co-operation. But this is of course only one facet of our present day association with and interest in the activities of our neighbour countries. Let me turn now to two countries with which Australia has particularly close associations. The separation of Malaysia and Singapore has not led to any reduction in Australia's continuing assistance in their joint resistance to Indonesian confrontation or in collective defence planning generally. Despite our disappointment over the separation, Australia has continued to enjoy a close relationship with both countries.

The act of separation did not, in itself, resolve all the practical and administrative questions that obviously arise when a federation is brought to an end. This has meant that there have been differences of opinion between Malaysia and Singapore on a number of matters, and other differences may continue to arise. But over and above such differences is a sober appreciation by both states of the problems that they share, and the dangers to which they are jointly exposed. For our part, and to the extent that it is appropriate, we shall continue to counsel the advantages of close institutional relationships between the two states in economics and defence. 1 repeat that we welcome the recognition by the British Government of the importance of retaining the Singapore and Malaysian military bases and the affirmation, in last month's White Paper on defence, that Britain will continue to maintain substantial strength in the region.

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