The Real Action in APEC- Bilateral and Trilateral Meetings

Updated On: Sep 11, 2007

With the difficulty of reaching consensus at the APEC level, the leaders have used the opportunity of the APEC summit to hold their own bilateral and plurilateral meetings on the sidelines.

Perhaps the most significant gesture made on the sidelines of the APEC summit for most of the ASEAN members was an invitation by US President Bush to his Texas ranch for an ASEAN-United States Summit in 2008. However, White House national security spokesman Gordon Johndroe qualified that all Asean heads of state had been invited, except Myanmar, whose ‘level of participation is to be determined.’ Mr Bush also said the US will name an ambassador to Asean ‘so that we can make sure that the ties we've established over the past years remain firmly entrenched.’

Australia, the US and Japan also held a trilateral security meeting on Saturday. The leaders discussed issues such as the denuclearisation of North Korea, positive engagement with China and India and globally in the joint theatres of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. They were keen to dispel the notion that the trilateral talks were aimed at containing China. Nonetheless, the Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Saturday that the informal talks were dominated by India's growing weight in Asia, which commentators have suggested could pose a counterbalance to China's rising military might. 

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his counterpart John Howard approved a long list of practical ways to further develop Japan-Australia co-operation under the Joint Declaration on Security Co-operation they signed in Japan recently. The agreement means there is likely to be more joint Japanese-Australian peacekeeping operations, based on the two countries' successful co-operation in Iraq, and exchanges of police and military personnel. Japanese troops are due in Australia soon for exercises with the Australian Defence Force.

As part of the effort towards reducing the amount of carbon emissions, Indonesia is reported to get US$20 million and A$100 million in loan commitment from Australia for forest conservation activities. The A$100 million funds will be used to finance a program to reduce green house gas emission by 700 million tons for over 30 years. The memorandum of understanding between Indonesia and Australia was signed by Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirajuda and Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met his Thai counterpart Surayud Chulanont for 30 minutes on the sideline. He thanked Gen Surayud for the renewal of the defence agreement for the Singapore Armed Forces to train in Thailand. Ties between the two countries are improving after the setback with Singapore company Temasek Holdings purchasing a stake in the deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin’s stake in Shin Corporation in 2006. 

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo assured the Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi of her commitment to the peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The Malaysian government has been hosting the talks between the Philippinesgovernment and Moro for almost a decade. The talks have stalled since September 2006 after the Philippines government and Moro failed to reach an agreement on the issue of ancestral domain. (10 September 2007)


APEC Ignores the Kyoto Protocol (JakartaPost, 10 September 2007)

Talks with Moro rebels will resume, says Gloria(Manila Standard, 10 September 2007)

Historic Meeting A Diplomatic Triumph (The Australian, 10 September 2007)

Japanese police to train in Australia for peacekeeping (The Age, 10 September 2007)

PM Lee and Surayud reaffirm good relations between two countries(Straits Times, 9 September 2007)

US, Japan, Australiain landmark talks as a wary Beijing looks on (South China Morning Post, 9 September 2007

Asean-US summit likely to be held next year(Straits Times, 9 September 2007)

Asean leaders get an invite to Texas from Bush(Straits Times, 9 September 2007)