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Visiting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe agreed Thursday in Tokyo to bolster cooperation to ensure a “free, open, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region” built on a “rule-based order,” effectively endorsing Japan’s strategy to keep China’s growing military power in check in the region.

In a joint statement released the same day, the two leaders also agreed to promote “deeper and broader defense cooperation” this year, including exercises, operations, capacity building and mutual visits by the military forces of the two countries.

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