Asean, Australia summit ends with rebukes against protectionism

Lucy Turnbull at the Women in Business breakfast at the ASEAN special summit in Sydney

The leaders added they wanted to see an "early conclusion of an effective code of conduct in the South China Sea".

A joint statement has been issued by Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as a special summit was concluded Sunday in Sydney.

On the success achieved at the summit, Najib said Australia had recognised Asean as an important organisation which had succeeded in promoting regional peace and stability.

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.

"The manner in which Donald Trump handled Tillerson's dismissal, combined with his snap decision to meet Kim Jong Un and other recent actions, reinforce the perception of the U.S.in Asia that the U.S.is increasingly unreliable", said Philip Yun, executive director of Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear weapons group.

"It is in our interest to engage all ASEAN members including Aung San Suu Kyi at this summit because it gives us the best chance of influencing outcomes and making our concerns known, so these are matters that we would be discussing with the Myanmar delegation", Bishop said.

Major ASEAN states such as Indonesia are likely to use the forum to push for Australia to be invited to apply for full membership in the organisation.

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Najib said Malaysia and Australia had close bilateral relations, particularly with regard to security and countering terrorism, and these close ties were reflected by both countries signing a memorandum of understanding in the field of transnational crime in 2014.

However the statement shied away from directly mentioning Myanmar's Rohingya refugee crisis, despite Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak warning the summit on Saturday the crisis could explode into a serious security threat for the region.

Turnbull, who delivered his keynote address before Najib, was also on the same page with the prime minister on the importance of having laws that could rein in terror elements, before they get out of control, saying that Asean must work together to develop and implement counter-terrorism legislation consistent with global standards and best practices.

- Australian Treasury to do workshops with ASEAN counterparts on topics such as tax, regulation reform and budget policy.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that the MoU's enhanced regional cooperation measures were vital to combat extremist movements such as ISIL, which were increasingly being forced to back away from open battle and push their financing, recruitment and command activities across borders via the internet's dark allies.

They also had a New Colombo Plan afternoon tea session at which the Asean heads of state and government met Australian students who have pursued higher studies under the plan.

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