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Australia unlikely to sign non-aggression pact with ASEAN countries: PM
www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-26 20:38:58

    CANBERRA, Nov. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard said on Friday that Australia is unlikely to sign a non-aggression treaty with the members of the Association of SoutheastAsian Nations (ASEAN).

    Howard showed his reluctance to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) just days before flying to Laos, which will hostthe ASEAN leaders' summit next week.

    He will be the first Australian prime minister to attend the summit, which will launch the negotiations between Australia, New Zealand and the 10 ASEAN nations for a free trade deal.

    "It's the sort of agreement that countries with perhaps a history coming out of the non-aligned movement would have signed, whereas a country such as Australia that has a different traditionand a different history would not normally have embraced treaties of this kind," Howard told Melbourne radio 3AW.

    "It is not the sort of treaty that we being a non-ASEAN countrywould normally sign," he said.

    "We are more interested in the substance of our relationship with the countries in the ASEAN region," he said.

    A number of other regional powers, including China, India, Pakistan and Japan, have signed the pact, which is thought to be crucial for closer relations.

    Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Australia hadhistorically been reluctant to sign the pact because it prevented governments from speaking out about human rights abuses.

    Australia's opposition Labor Party said the government's refusal to sign the treaty threatened Australia's regional political, economic and security interests. Enditem

    

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