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In an announcement during a summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Melbourne, Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong disclosed a funding initiative of 64 million Australian dollars ($41.8 million) dedicated to bolstering maritime security.

Highlighting the importance of maritime security, Wong said, “The countries of our region rely on oceans, seas, and rivers for livelihoods and commerce, including free and open sea lanes in the South China Sea.” Although specific recipient countries were not named, Wong praised the maritime boundary delimitation efforts by Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines amidst the contentious claims in the South China Sea.

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This financial pledge marks a significant moment at the ASEAN summit, celebrating half a century of Australia’s dialogue partnership with the Southeast Asian bloc. The summit also addressed concerns over Australia’s defense strategies potentially fueling an arms race in the region.

Amidst regional security and cooperation discussions, Wong said, “We also have the responsibility to lower the tension, to melt the ice, to create space for dialogue, to bridge the differences.”


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