Australia, ASEAN welcome inter-Korean thaw

Police escorts are part of heightened security measures around the summit

Leaders of Southeast Asian nations concluded athree-day summit in the eastern Australian city of Sydney on Sunday, issuing a number of joint declarations on topics ranging from security to trade.

Almost 700,000 Rohingya have fled the troubled Rakhine state for Bangladesh since authorities launched a brutal crackdown six months ago that the United Nations has called "ethnic cleansing".

Lee Hsien Loong said the ASEAN and Australian leaders hope these steps will contribute toward lasting peace and stability.

"Aung Sun Suu Kyi addressed the matter comprehensively at some considerable length herself", he said.

Hun Sen said protesters will be beaten up if they burn effigies of him
Hun Sen said protesters will be beaten up if they burn effigies of him

With China flexing its muscle, they also committed to enhancing "the scope and sophistication of defence cooperation", while expressing "grave concern" about escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Tensions in the South China Sea remain a big worry for regional leaders, as Beijing continues to build artificial islands capable of hosting military installations - much to the chagrin of other claimants to the area.

In a joint communique issued at the conclusion of the summit, Asean and Australia also called for "self-restraint" in the South China Sea, where aggressive Chinese expansion has irked Asean members.

"It's a very complex problem".

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"As leaders said this morning, nowhere is far away from anywhere when it comes to terrorism and none of us can tackle this threat alone", Mr Turnbull said.

Several initiatives were announced during the summit, including initiatives on development of smart cities, infrastructure development, and setting new digital standards to make it easier for businesses to conduct cross-border digital trade.

Traditionally ASEAN members have refrained from publicly criticising the domestic affairs of their peers, but during a counter terrorism summit on Saturday the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak made a speech in which he said the suffering of displaced Rohingyas - 700,000 of whom have fled persecution in northern Myanmar - made them vulnerable to radicalisation by terrorist groups.

The objective of organizing the summit is to discuss the future direction and cooperation between ASEAN and Australia despite the rising power and influence of China in the region. However, the leaders also pointed to the anticipated arrival of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership - the ambitious plan to establish an ASEAN-centric free trade region, which began as a negotiation launched in Cambodia in 2012.

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But Lee said the matter was a cause of concern for all of ASEAN, whose members would be anxious "if there is any instability or any trouble" in fellow member countries.

The TPP 11 includes Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei and Mr Turnbull has been keen to entice Indonesia to the fold.

"Our security and law enforcement agencies are keeping us safe from terrorism and other threats, and working more closely together than ever, and of course our students".

- Training for ASEAN police to uncover terror plots with technology and use electronic evidence for prosecutions.

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