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Inaugural Sub-Regional Defence Ministers’ Meeting on Counter-Terrorism

The inaugural Sub-Regional Defence Ministers’ Meeting on Counter-Terrorism was held in Perth on 1–2 February 2018. An Australian initiative originally proposed by then-Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, this meeting sought to address the threat posed by regional terrorism, highlighted by the 2017 terrorist seizure of Marawi, in the Philippines.

Reflecting the urgency of the issue for the region, Defence Ministers and senior representatives from Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand all participated. Ministers shared assessments of counter-terrorist trends and challenges, and exchanged lessons learned on operational methods used in both the Middle East and the southern Philippines.

The meeting also included a Special Forces demonstration, highlighting Australia’s capability to assist in any response to future terrorist incidents.

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together in the fight against terrorism, and agreed on the importance of improving information sharing on regional terrorist threats. Ministers also agreed to various practical outcomes, including:

  • for regional armed forces to share more lessons learned from recent operations, principally inside existing exercises and activities;
  • a new defence-led, terrorism-focused, working-level intelligence analytics exchange; and
  • to explore opportunities to enhance regional defence cooperation on maritime counter-terrorism.

By leading this inaugural Sub-Regional Defence Ministers’ Meeting on Counter-Terrorism, Australia demonstrated its commitment to the region as a genuine, reliable, and long-term partner of choice in regional counter-terrorism efforts.