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Asean Committee in Canberra celebrates 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations

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The ASEAN Committee in Canberra held the 47th ASEAN Day and 40th Anniversary of the ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Partnership Diplomatic Reception at the Atrium of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) RG Casey Building on Wednesday, 27 August 2014. More than 200 representatives from the Australian government and members of the Diplomatic Corps joined H.E. Belen F. Anota, PH Ambassador to Australia, the nine other ASEAN Heads of Mission, and Australian DFAT officials in celebrating the 40th anniversary of ASEAN’s first dialogue partnership.

The brief program commenced with the ceremonial exchange of toasts led by H.E. Mr Min Thein, Ambassador of Myanmar and Chair of the ASEAN Committee in Canberra (ACC), and Australia’s Chief of Protocol, Mr. Chris Cannan. The toasts were followed by the singing of the ASEAN hymn and the Australian National Anthem by a choir composed of representatives from four ASEAN countries and schoolchildren of the Arawang Primary School. The choir was jointly conducted by Mrs. Gemma McKeown and Mrs. Lynn Kowalik.

During his welcome remarks, Ambassador Min Thein gave an overview of the history of ASEAN and its dialogue partnership with Australia. He commended Australia for being a dedicated partner in realizing ASEAN’s goal of building an integrated, connected and people-oriented community, and for its strong support for the ASEAN Community 2015. He expressed confidence that with the ASEAN-Australia Commemorative Summit in Myanmar this year, which is expected to adopt a new Plan of Action (2015-2019), the strong foundation for cooperation will be further strengthened to better serve the common interests of ASEAN and Australia in building a stronger, more resilient and progressive Asia-Pacific region.

The Guest of Honor, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, conveyed Australia's continuing commitment to its partnership with ASEAN. She also acknowledged Australia’s shared stake in regional security and stability in the Asia-Pacific Region, and reiterated Australia's role in shaping regional security institutions. FM Bishop also looked forward to the impending engagement of more ASEAN nations in the Coalition government’s New Colombo Plan that paves the way for Australian university students to study and work in particular Asian countries.

The program concluded with cultural performances from Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos and Myanmar.

Australia became ASEAN's first Dialogue Partner in 1974. In February 2014, Foreign Minister Bishop visited Manila to mark the official launch of the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations. The anniversary celebration will culminate in the ASEAN-Australia Commemorative Summit in November in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

The Philippines serves as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-Australia Relations until 2015.

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