ASEAN unfazed by US marine deployment in Australia

Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said here Thursday ASEAN countries were not disturbed or feeling threatened by the decision of the United States to station 2,500 marines in Darwin, Australia.

"This must not be seen as something disturbing," Marty told journalists at the venue of 19th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Nusa Dua, Bali, which is also being attended by US President Barack Obama along with the leaders of China, Japan, Korea and Australia.

Marty said what the United States and Australia were doing in this regard should not necessarily be seen as an threat to peace in the Southeast Asian region.

ASEAN, he said, will soon produce the Bali principles, containing a code of conduct for ASEAN member states and their dialogue partners towards establishing a peaceful atmosphere in the Southeast Asian region.

In the Indonesian context, he said, Indonesia also did not feel threatened by the development and would not get trapped in "the stream of perceptions that would lead us into considering the development as a threat."

"Indonesia will not be trapped into such a situation," he said in the first direct comment on the announcement made by President Obama when he was visiting Australia earlier this week that the US would deploy 2,500 marines in Darwin, North Australia.

In his previous remarks to the media on Wednesday, Marty said that ASEAN would not allow the Southeast Asian region be used by major or strong countries to compete with each other in serving their own interests.

"ASEAN will never let Southeast Asia become an arena of rivalry among the countries that call themselves strong," he said, adding that ASEAN was not afraid that with this stance it might strain its relations with such major powers in the East Asia forum as China, Japan, Russia and the US.

At their meetings so far, the ASEAN foreign ministers had agreed that the Southeast Asian region had become a secure, peaceful and stable region capable of lessening or even solving conflicts among its members.  (*)

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