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East Asian summit.



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KEVIN RUDD M.P. Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security 22 July 2005

EAST ASIAN SUMMIT

Today the ABC “World Today” program carried a report which said:

“GRAEME DOBELL: In the months since, Australia has been slowly executing a policy u-turn, moving to accept the Treaty of Amity. That somersault is to be completed in Vientiane next week, when the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, attends the annual meeting with the 10 ASEAN Foreign Ministers. Mr Downer says Australia is ready to sign, if that's the price to be paid to attend the East Asia summit.

ALEXANDER DOWNER: We're having talks with the ASEAN countries, and have been, and we will continue to over the details of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. If we can satisfy ourselves about various concerns we have then we would be prepared to sign it, particularly as signing it will ensure that Australia can participate in the East Asia Summit process and we see the East Asia Summit as the birth of a growing East Asian community, so it makes good sense for the region, for Australia to be involved. And if the price is signing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, we'll do that, if we can sign it without it in any way interfering with treaties and other arrangements we have with countries outside of the ASEAN region.”

Later today AAP, based on the ABC World Today program, also ran an item entitled “Downer signals Australia will sign friendship treaty”. Other electronic news sites carried similar reports.

Subsequent to both the AAP and ABC reports, the Opposition issued a statement on the U-Turn in the Government’s position on the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. This followed on from Opposition statements over the previous 24-hours based on the statement by the Malaysian Foreign Minister yesterday that

"The FM [Downer] called me and informed me that Australia has agreed to ratify" the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

The Opposition’s statement this afternoon also stated that Mr Downer in confirming the Government’s U-Turn on the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation had done so in the aftermath of the second London bombing.

It has now become clear that notwithstanding the reports by ABC Radio, AAP and other electronic news services, Mr Downer’s comments were in fact not made today - but were made several weeks ago. Therefore it was inaccurate to say that the Foreign Minister confirmed the Government’s U-Turn on signing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in aftermath of the second London bombing. This correction has been released as soon as content of this afternoon’s ABC

World Today program was clarified.

Nonetheless neither the Foreign Minister nor his office today have repudiated in anyway the reported statement overnight by the Malaysian Foreign Minister.

Ends. 22 July 2005

Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823