Australia Promises More Assistance to ASEAN

Australia said Wednesday it will donate at least 10 million more doses of its COVID-19 vaccine and is offering $92.6 million in financial assistance to Southeast Asia in its efforts to strengthen ties with countries in the region.

Speaking at a virtual summit with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders, Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed a comprehensive strategic partnership deal with the 10-member bloc.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives before a working dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo: AP/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrives before a working dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (Photo: AP/Rafael Yaghobzadeh)

“ASEAN is at the center of the Indo-Pacific and we support it through words and actions,” Morrison told ASEAN leaders.

Australia’s push for stronger ties with ASEAN comes amid growing concerns about China’s activities in the Asia-Pacific region.

Morrison said the comprehensive strategic partnership would be more than a “label”, and urged ASEAN to positively consider proposals to improve the relationship.

“We will support it with substance that positions our partnerships to address complex issues in the future,” Morrison said.

Morrison highlighted issues such as COVID-19, transnational crime and energy security, when he said Canberra would offer another $92.6 million to fund projects that address those problems. [ab/uh]

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