Opening Remarks by tyndale

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                                 Opening Remarks
                                           by
                        His Excellency Nitya Pibulsonggram
               Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand
       at the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference + 1 Session with Australia,
                               1 August 2007, Manila
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Mr. Co-Chair the Honourable Alexander Downer,
Your Royal Highness,
Dear Colleagues,

       On behalf of my ASEAN colleagues, I wish to extend a warm welcome to you
and your delegation to the ASEAN Post Ministerial Conference Session with
Australia. Indeed, you are no stranger to the PMC+1 as you have been with us many
times before.

       I also wish to acknowledge the presence of H.R.H. Prince Mohamed Bolkiah,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam, H.E. Hor Namhong, Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of
Cambodia, H.E. George Yeo, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, and H.E. Le
Cong Phung, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, and senior officials from
other ASEAN Member Countries.

       I am delighted to co-chair this Meeting with you for the first time since Thailand
took over from Viet Nam as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-Australia Dialogue
Relations last July.

        Australia has always played a constructive role in Southeast Asia. With ASEAN
striving for regional integration, AusAID continues to play an active role in promoting
sustainable development in this region. The first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the
Mekong River, built with Australia’s support, is a concrete symbol of the Australian
contribution to promoting greater connectivity in this region.

        The focus on development cooperation in the early days of ASEAN-Australia
relations has now broadened to cover economic, political and security areas.

       On the economic side of our relations, the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand
Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) is expected to be concluded by the end of this year.
It would serve as an important tool to increase our trade volume which last year was
around 46 billion US dollars.

        Financial cooperation is gaining importance. I recall your remarks at our EAS
working lunch yesterday on the convergence of interest on the part of Australia and
ASEAN for the need to strengthen the financial fabric in our region. Our common aim is
to increase our immunity to financial crises and create a stable financial environment
conducive to promoting enhanced trade and investment in the region. After the financial
crisis in 1997, the ASEAN Plus Three countries have established standby agreements
under the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) to pool their reserves together to prevent sudden
capital outflow.
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        Today, the CMI is being multilateralized. However, there is a possibility to
expand the CMI further. We should try to explore and synchronize it with other existing
financial cooperation frameworks. We could explore this in the ASEAN-Australia
context.

        In response to the common threat of terrorism, ASEAN and Australia signed the
Joint Declaration on Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism in 2004. Australia is
active in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and its accession to the Treaty of Amity
and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) helps promote a stable regional environment --
an important factor for regional integration. But our relations have been nurtured not only
through our dialogue partnership. We interact in numerous other frameworks such as the
EAS, APEC, the WTO, to name a few, which can be attributed to our shared values and
interests.

Mr. Co-Chair,

        Today, our relations will enter a new chapter when we sign the Joint Declaration
on the ASEAN-Australia Comprehensive Partnership a few hours from now. This
document is a guideline to enhance our cooperation in all aspects, covering political and
security, economic, socio-cultural and development cooperation.

       I have learned that our senior officials have made progress in drafting a Plan of
Action (POA). I believe that the POA will reflect our commitment to ensure that our
partnership will continue to be relevant and responsive to regional interests and
circumstances.

       In Thailand’s view, besides ASEAN regional integration including narrowing the
development gap, our cooperation should focus on terrorism, energy security, trade and
investment, infectious diseases, education, disaster management and environment.

Mr. Co-Chair,

       In ASEAN as well as in Australia, understanding amongst peoples is key to
harmony and continued progress. In 2006, there were 72,000 ASEAN students studying
in Australia. About 630,000 ASEAN travelers visited Australia while more than 2 million
Australians visited the ASEAN region. The interaction between our peoples is a strong
foundation for enhancing our cooperation in various fields. Therefore, we should give
importance to our youth and education. ASEAN students who study in Australia would
appreciate Australia’s values and culture. When these students return to their home
countries with good memories of Australia, they would help promote our ties further.

Mr. Co-Chair,

        There are many ways to describe the enduring links between ASEAN and
Australia. A most recent example is the warm reception given to the Australian soccer
team (the Socceroos) when it participated for the first time in the AFC Asian Cup
organized in four ASEAN Member Countries including Thailand this year. This warm
reception endured even though Australia advanced to the next round at the expense of
Thailand! But this just goes to show the strong natural affinities between ASEAN and
Australia -- an affinity that this Comprehensive Partnership will only help make stronger.

       Thank you for your attention.

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