ASEAN, Australia ink pact on counter-terror cooperation

Vietnam's PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Malcolm Turnbull exchange papers

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"We are cautiously encouraged by these developments", Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told reporters after the summit.

Leaders at the first summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be held in Australia issued a joint statement with the host country that also called for non-militarization and a code of conduct in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where China has become increasingly assertive.

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi will meet Australia Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday.

Canberra and ASEAN reaffirmed "the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region", without naming Beijing.

With the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, without the United States, now signed, Turnbull urged leaders to get behind a "high quality" Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership deal.

A spokeswoman for Bishop said on Monday the agreement was purely an ASEAN initiative and "not to counter China".

Singapore chairs the regional grouping this year. RCEP can become the world's largest free trade pact for representing nearly half of the world's population which accumulates to 31.6 percent of the global gross domestic product and 28.5 percent of the global trade.

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Asean members Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, also have claims in the important trade waterway that is mostly claimed by China, which has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with ports and air strips.

The MOU is supported by programs on technical and regulatory assistance to develop best practices in aid of counter-terrorism legislation, and regional dialogues and workshops on topics, such as electronic evidence, financial intelligence, and countering online radicalization.

Dubbed the ASEAN-Australian Smart Cities initiative, its funding would go toward helping experts throughout the region share development experiences using technology to make cities more sustainable and liveable.

On board the flght President Jokowi was accompanied by First Lady Iriana, coordinating minister for security, political and legal affairs Wiranto, minister/state secretary Pratikno, foreign minister Retno Marsudi and head of Capital Investment Coordinating Board Thomas Lembong.

The New Colombo Plan ASEAN Fellow initiative provides the opportunity for Australian undergraduates to study and undertake work-based experiences specifically in the ASEAN region.

The two-day special summit between Asean and Australia wrapped up yesterday in Sydney with a renewed spirit of cooperation along with some concrete action plans to further cement the bilateral ties.

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