Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday suggested the possibility of a larger number of US Marines and Navy vessels in Australia amid tensions with the neighboring Indo-Pacific nation of China.
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At the Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference in Canberra, Dutton described relations between Australia and China as “productive” but excluded having deep military ties with China due to the position of Australia.
“I think that is in our own security interest and I think it is in the interest of the US as well,” Dutton said on the increasing number of American troops in Australia, as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald.
He added that “as a consequence, the prospect of military conflict is less remote than in the past – especially through miscalculation or misunderstanding.”
Relations between Australia and China have been getting tense for decades. Now they are considered the worst so far with Canberra’s initiative to launch an inquiry into the COVID-19 origins and additional tariffs imposed on Australia by Beijing last year.
The US warned China that the economic pressure might result in the deterioration of US-China relations.
Australia, Germany Boost Ties In Indo-Pacific
Meanwhile, Australia and Germany agreed to boost cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, after Thursday talks between foreign and defense ministers of the two countries, according to the Australian foreign minister’s office.
“Ministers committed to intensifying their cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, including with like-minded partners, in support of an open, inclusive and resilient region. Ministers agreed that Germany’s focus on the implementation of its new ‘Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific’ to step up its engagement provided a significant opportunity for strengthening cooperation in the region,” the Australian foreign ministry said in a press release.
The latest 2+2 ministerial consultations outlined the importance of bilateral cooperation as well as international engagement in the region. Ministers discussed the South China Sea, expressed their support for the Afghan government, as international troops are being pulled out, and gave overviews on Iran, North Korea, Russia and China in today’s international affairs.
German interest in the region is reflected in “Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific”, which was issued in September 2020. In the guidelines, it is stated that cooperation within the Indo-Pacific is in EU interests and Germany is determined to strengthen multilateralism, tackle climate change and strengthen ‘peace, security and stability’ in the Indo-Pacific.