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Japan, Australia planning ‘two-plus-two’ defense talks for late November

Kyodo

Japan and Australia are making final arrangements to hold a meeting of their defense and foreign ministers, possibly in late November, with technological cooperation on submarines to be high on the agenda, according to a Japanese source.

At the “two-plus-two” meeting to be held in Australia, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Gen Nakatani will also seek to build trust with the new Australian government led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that took power in September.

The previous prime minister, Tony Abbott, was known for having close ties with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

These will be the sixth talks of their kind. The last meeting was held in June 2014 in Tokyo.

Australia will be represented by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defense Minister Marise Payne.

The talks could be pushed back to December if circumstances do not allow, the government source said Sunday.

Japan is fiercely competing with France and Germany to be selected by Australia as a partner to develop submarines for its navy, with each country urged to submit proposals required for the competitive evaluation process by the end of November.

Australian officials have called it the “largest defense procurement program in its history.”

Japan is crafting a proposal based on the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Soryu-class diesel-electric submarines, which are considered highly advanced.

The Japanese and Australian ministers are also likely to discuss ways to promote security cooperation and how to deal with China’s growing maritime assertiveness.

Turnbull, who won a sudden party leadership challenge, is labeled by Chinese media as pro-China.

Final arrangements are meanwhile being made for Turnbull to visit Japan in December.