Pacific Partners Hold Security Talks

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Heads of defence and security agencies across the pacific have linked up to discuss pressing concerns in the region.

Chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Angus Campbell has met virtually with leaders from police, defence, immigration and customs agencies across the region as part of Joint Heads of Pacific Security (JHOPS) 2021.

This year’s meeting was attended by security leaders from 24 nations and territories, and five regional bodies.

Japan and the United States joined for the second time.

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The meeting, which forms part of the Pacific Step-up initiative, provides participants with an opportunity to share ideas and discuss solutions to common security challenges, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the issues discussed was the re-opening of international borders.

“Through it all, the Pacific community has remained closely engaged. This past year has seen us collectively tackle overlapping challenges from COVID-19, tropical cyclones and bushfires, and regional maritime security,” GEN Campbell said.

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“We continue to come together with a shared sense of purpose; a commitment to an open, inclusive and rules-based Pacific.

“Through forums like JHOPS we learn from each other and grow stronger as a community.”

Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram noted the importance of regional collaboration in achieving common objectives.

“Through our partnerships, collaboration and technology we are keeping our borders safe. We are able to achieve more through economies of scale,” Commissioner Outram said.

“Together we are more effective at identifying and mitigating risk; and we can maximise our law-enforcement presence, and better direct it to where it has the greatest impact,” he said.

“Our joint initiatives from container control programs to the establishment of secure trade lanes, and joint maritime surveillance, under the Pacific Maritime Security Program are making a difference.”

According to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw, the discussions were helping to combat transnational organised crime.

“Through shared technology, capabilities and insights we are detecting, disrupting and deterring transnational criminal activity both on and offshore,” Commissioner Kershaw said.

GEN Campbell said these latest discussions centered on the combined long-term regional recovery.

“We must plan a way forward to a new-normal, continue to adapt, deliver security outcomes, and protect our collective communities,” he said.

“Our ability to do so is based on partnerships. We are stronger together.”

[Related: AUKUS: Shaking up the Indo-Pacific status quo]

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