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Australia Special Summit results in new opportunities for student exchange

19 March 2018

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shakes hands with Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong during their media conference during the one-off ASEAN summit in Sydney Thomson Reuters SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed during a weekend summit in Sydney to establish a regional infrastructure pipeline, Australia's foreign minister said, as the bloc seeks to balance rising Chinese influence. It was followed by traditional cultural performances to officially welcome Asean leaders to Australia.

"We'll discuss some of the region's most pressing security challenges, including how to respond strongly and effectively to the deadly threat posed by North Korea", Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in opening remarks.

Australia signed an agreement on Saturday with Southeast Asian nations including Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines promising to share intelligence to combat terrorism.

"They'll return battle-hardened and trained, so it's vital for Australia and our ASEAN partners to collaborate across borders", he said.

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The two-day special summit between Asean and Australia wrapped up yesterday in Sydney with a renewed spirit of cooperation along with some concrete action plans to further cement the bilateral ties.

- 50 new scholarships for ASEAN post graduates students to study in Australia.

Within the context of power shifts caused by the relatively declining power of the United States and the rising power of China, Asean and Australia are compelled to work closer to maintain strategic equilibrium in the region. The program is focused on boosting ASEAN's political security and peace, economic sustainability, and social development across the region.

A "concept note" explained that the ASEAN Smart Cities Network "is envisioned as a collaborative platform where up to three cities from each ASEAN member state including toward the common goal of smart and sustainable urban development".

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Australia now is an existing program which is a "a celebration of Australia delivered annually in a country or region of strategic significance" for the objective of "building relationships for the future".

But while a final communique noted a resolve to "protect the human rights of our peoples", it failed to condemn member state Myanmar's treatment of the Muslim-minority Rohingya.

"Australia is an increasingly popular choice for ASEAN students seeking a world-class education".

Jokowi also stated that the ASEAN-Australia special summit must be a locomotive for the free-trade system.

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Australia Special Summit results in new opportunities for student exchange