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Southeast Asian Defense Pact Helps ‘Balance’ Region, Members Say

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Top officials from Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Britain said on Saturday that their 52-year-old Five Power Defense Arrangements (FPDA) pact helped keep things in balance amid regional tensions.

“The longstanding FPDA… has always been an important part of ensuring signaling collective defense in this region,” New Zealand defense minister Andrew Little said at a media briefing on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

As the tensions between the United States and China persist, the longstanding relationships among smaller nations are “what keep things in balance”, Little said.

“I’m comfortable continuing to keep things in balance as different countries including the major powers work out how the relationships are working,” he added.

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Singaporean Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles, Malaysian Defense Minister Seri Mohamad Hasan, Little, and British defense minister Ben Wallace discussed the importance of the FPDA as a constructive and peaceful arrangement.

The ministers also talked about collaborating in unconventional ways in the face of contemporary security challenges.

“We are five countries who are deeply committed to a rules-based order and promoting peace within our region,” Marles said.

Increased regional involvement by nations in and outside Asia has been a recurring theme at the security meetings, with comments on the subject from Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Friday night, and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoing the sentiments in a speech the next morning.

(Reporting by Chen Lin; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters,

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