Philippines and Australia Launch Strategic Dialogue

The Philippines and Australia launched their Strategic Dialogue on 4 October 2012 in Canberra, Australia with Philippine Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Ma. Theresa Lazaro and National Defense Assistant Secretary Raymund Jose Quilop leading the Philippine delegation while Foreign Affairs and Trade First Assistant Secretary Rod Smith and Defense First Assistant Secretary Neil Orme heading the Australian delegation.

Established to sustain the bilateral dialogue on strategic and regional issues of mutual interest and concern, the dialogue complements the Philippines-Australia Ministerial Meeting (PAMM) and the Joint Defense Cooperation Committee (JDCC). The dialogue comes at an opportune time, with the PH-Australia Status of Visiting Forces Agreement (SOVFA) having been recently ratified by the Philippine Senate in July of this year and with Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III scheduled to visit Australia this month.

During the dialogue, the Philippine and Australia sides exchanged views on various regional security issues affecting both countries to include the role and relations of regional powers as well as ASEAN, the US rebalance towards Asia, the regional security architecture, West Philippine Sea, and developments in the Middle East. Other matters taken up are countering terrorism and addressing transnational crimes such as smuggling/trafficking of persons, piracy and cyber security challenges. Disarmament and non-proliferation to include those of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear explosives (CBRNEs) were likewise discussed.

Both sides also assessed their cooperative endeavors with the end view of further exploring opportunities for bilateral partnership. With the SOVFA's ratification, 
PH-Australia relationship, specifically in defense issues, is at a deeper level. Australia is the second country with which the Philippines, has a defense-related treaty. It is likewise the second Asia-Pacific partner with which Manila holds a strategic dialogue.