March 18, 2006


Australian talks centre on Iran (BBC, 3/18/06)

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterparts from Australia and Japan have expressed grave concern over Iran's disputed nuclear programme.

In a joint statement following trilateral security talks, they called on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and resume negotiations. [...]

Ms Rice, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said they discussed the need for "concerted action" by the UN Security Council to convince Iran to "promptly suspend" uranium enrichment activities. [...]

The three ministers also called on North Korea to "immediately and unconditionally" return to six-party nuclear talks. [...]

Earlier, Ms Rice and her counterparts held talks on how the three countries could deal with issues such as China and tackle its growing military strength.

Ms Rice had voiced concerns that Beijing would become a "negative force" unless it was more open about its military build-up.

A 'little NATO' against China (Purnendra Jain, 3/18/06, Asia Times)
This ministerial-level meeting has drawn the attention of political leaders and analysts across the Asia-Pacific region. Many view the new "triple alliance" with suspicion. There is a concern that this might be the beginning of a new Cold War-type alliance in which China is cast as the adversary.

This suspicion has become even stronger in the light of the comments made by Rice before her departure for Indonesia. China, she claimed, could become a "negative force" in the region. Consequently "all of us in the region, particularly those of us who are long-standing allies, have a joint responsibility and obligation to try [to] produce conditions in which the rise of China will be a positive force in international politics, not a negative force". Not surprisingly then, China's military and economic rise would be at the core of the trilateral security discussions.

This development will not be taken kindly in many capitals around the region. Although China has not responded to Rice's comment, it will most certainly make Beijing furious. To make a particular country the main item of discussion, as Rice has suggested, is far from the stated aims when the process was put in place five years ago.

The trilateral security dialogue process was put forward by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and endorsed by then US secretary of state Colin Powell and then foreign minister of Japan Makiko Tanaka in July 2001. The proposal was made in light of the weakening of multilateral processes such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in economic and security spheres, and growing concerns by the three nations over both North Korea's nuclear capability and China's intentions in relation to Taiwan and its growing defense capabilities. These and other security-related concerns, such as global terrorism, led conservative governments in Australia and Japan to link themselves with the United States and each other.

Taiwan, India, Indonesia & Mongolia need to integrated into the structure.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 18, 2006 7:51 AM

A cordon sanitaire?
Good thing it has the Aussies in it. Those diggers still know how to fight.

I speculate New Zealand will, unofficially, fall into to it, as they have a lot to lose if they don't.

Posted by: Mikey at March 18, 2006 4:31 PM