Japan, Australia to strengthen defense ties, stress importance of TPP

Sat Jan 14, 2017 7:06pm EST
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By Harry Pearl

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met his Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney on Saturday where the pair agreed to deepen defense ties and stressed the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Abe's visit comes amid heightened regional tension in the South China Sea and fears U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will push ahead with his pledge to kill the trade agreement once he takes office on Jan. 20.

"We have confirmed our commitment to the rule of law, free trade and open markets in our region," Turnbull told reporters at a joint press conference.

Abe said the increasingly uncertain geopolitical landscape made the relationship between Japan and Australia more important than ever.

"It is important to guard and increase the robustness of the free, open and rules-based international order," Abe said.

Both leaders spoke of their desire to see the TPP ratified, despite opposition from Trump.

The 12-member pact aims to cut barriers in some of Asia's fastest-growing economies, but it does not include China.

Without U.S. approval the agreement cannot come to fruition.   Continued...

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a media conference as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull listens on after their bilateral meeting at Kirribilli House in Sydney, Australia, January 14, 2017.     REUTERS/Chris Pavlich