• Kyodo


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Australian counterpart have agreed to speed up work on a new defense pact that would facilitate joint exercises and deployments.

“We would like to work on our security cooperation in a positive manner and to start arrangements for the new pact as early as possible,” Abe was quoted by a Japanese government official as telling Prime Minister Tony Abbott in New York on Wednesday.

The meeting came on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

The proposed defense pact would strengthen cooperation in security and disaster relief between Japan’s Self-Defense Forces and the Australian military.

A joint statement issued after their summit meeting in Canberra in July said the two countries would begin talks on foreign and defense policy.

Abe and Abbott also agreed to work closely together to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, along with India and the United States, said Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko, who briefed reporters on the meeting, which was held over sushi lunch.

“Trilateral cooperation between Japan, Australia and the United States is very important for peace and stability in the region,” Abe was quoted as saying.

The two leaders shared the view that cooperation between Japan, Australia and India is also important for the Indo-Pacific region, the spokesman said.

Abe and Abbott also discussed the U.S.-led military actions against the Islamic State militant group, a bilateral free trade deal that has already been signed, and the broader Trans-Pacific Partnership trade initiative.

Earlier on Wednesday, Abe had separate meetings with Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Varela said he hopes that more Japanese companies and financial institutions will get involved in infrastructure projects in Panama. Meanwhile Abe called for Ban’s support in reforming the U.N. Security Council next year, which is the 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ founding.

Japan argues the Security Council should be expanded, and is seeking a permanent seat, along with places for the other Group of Four countries — Brazil, India and Germany.

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