SYDNEY - A proposed new defence agreement between Australia and Japan is not aimed at China, according to Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer insisted that a proposed new defence agreement between Australia and Japan is not aimed at China and that Beijing does not need to worry. [AFP]
Prime Minister John Howard is expected to sign the accord with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during a visit to Japan next month, national radio reported.
Downer said the agreement would not have treaty status and that any joint military exercises would focus on counter-terrorism, disaster relief and peacekeeping.
"It's not a statement which is designed to... prepare for war," he told reporters.
Downer said the agreement, which was still being negotiated, should not worry Beijing.
"We certainly have always said we have no policy of containment or isolation for China -- quite the contrary. We believe the more we engage China bilaterally, within our region and beyond, the better that is.
"There's no need for them to be upset. It's not directed at China."
Downer said he understood that some Australian veterans of World War II might be unhappy about the idea of a security arrangement with Japan, but that it was time to move on.
"We certainly have already begun working with the Japanese military in East Timor, Cambodia and most recently Iraq," he said. "We're of the view that we need to have cooperation between our defence forces.
"But if we're to have joint exercises, they'd probably focus very much more on things like disaster relief rather than the more aggressive type of military exercises we might have with the Americans."