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Australia’s Defence Minister Meets Little to Discuss Geopolitical ‘threat Level’

Australia’s Defence Minister has paid an informal visit to New Zealand’s Parliament, where he spoke about a “greater threat” level in the geopolitical arena.

Richard Marles, who is also Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, spoke to reporters with New Zealand’s Defence Minister Andrew Little today.

Little said the pair discussed “the full breadth” of the trans-Tasman defence relationship but did not specifically talk about New Zealand’s potential involvement in the AUKUS security pact.

“It is a backdrop to the relationship at the moment, but as we await our defence policy review – and the early reports that come out of that – then we have to be thinking about the implications of that for our decisions about the future.”

Marles said the pair were in agreement both countries should work together as much as possible, given “a greater alignment between Australia and New Zealand than Australia has with any other country on the planet”.

“We are kind of in whatever we’re in together and so in that sense I think we both felt that this is a time where it’s really important that we are working as closely together as possible.”

Asked about the potential for conflict between Australia and China in the current geopolitical arena, Marles claimed the threat had increased.

“We live in a complex, strategic environment. And we live in a strategic environment of a greater threat than we’ve had in a very long period of time.

“But all of that is why it’s so important that we do our diplomacy well, in fact that we do it excellently.”

On AUKUS, Marles said the security pact did not compromise his country’s prior commitment to anti-nuclear proliferation.

It has made waves in the Pacific, with other countries concerned the deal goes against the anti-nuclear proliferation Treaty of Rarotonga – to which New Zealand and Australia are both signatories.

Asked to respond to these concerns today, Marles said the treaty still stood.

“We’ve been working very closely with the International Atomic Energy Agency to make sure that we are establishing the bar at its highest in terms of one country providing this technology to another.

“We are making it completely clear that a precondition for us walking down this path as a government is that we meet every one of our obligations under the non-proliferation treaty and we are very confident that we’re doing.”

New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has received specific assurances from Australia AUKUS does not run contrary to that treaty.

Source : RNZ