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International relations

Australia and Japan expand defense ties with eye on China

Abe plans Darwin visit next month to bolster Indo-Pacific partnership

From left, Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya at their "two-plus-two" meeting in Sydney on Oct. 10.
From left, Australian Defense Minister Christopher Pyne, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya at their "two-plus-two" meeting in Sydney on Oct. 10.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- Japan and Australia on Wednesday vowed to sign an agreement soon that will allow for greater military cooperation within each other's borders, as the countries keep an eye on China's growing maritime influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

"The ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to conclude the negotiations [on a Visiting Forces Agreement] as early as is feasible," said a joint statement issued by the countries' defense and foreign affairs chiefs, who met here in "two-plus-two" talks. It was the first such meeting between the nations since April 2017.

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