Wed, 23 Jun 2021

Tokyo [Japan], November 17 (ANI): Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, on Tuesday signed a landmark defence pact in a bid to counter China's growing influence in the South China Sea and over the Pacific island nations.

The Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) comes weeks after foreign ministers of the Quad alliance, which includes the US and India, met in Tokyo.

Australian Prime Minister said that both the countries have reached an agreement in principle on a defence treaty that is expected to strengthen their security ties and facilitate cooperation between defence forces, Sputnik reported.

"Australia and Japan have reached an in-principle agreement on a landmark defence treaty that will further deepen the countries' strategic and security relationship," Morrison said in a statement.

According to the South China Morning Post, this defence agreement has taken six years to negotiate and would need to be ratified by lawmakers of both countries.

"This agreement paves the way for a new chapter of advanced defence cooperation between our two countries. The only other such agreement that Japan has struck with another country is with the United States 60 years ago," Morrison added.

"The significance of the RAA cannot be understated. It will form a key plank of Australia's and Japan's response to an increasingly challenging security environment in our region amid more uncertain strategic circumstances. As we finalise the RAA I thank the work done by my predecessors as well as by former Japanese Prime Minister [Shinzo] Abe across six years of negotiations," he said.

Without mentioning Beijing, the statement also expressed serious concern about "the situation in the South China Sea and reconfirmed their strong opposition to any coercive or unilateral attempts to change the status quo and thereby increase tensions in the region." (ANI)

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