French president Emmanuel Macron’s visit has taken the bilateral relationship to “new heights”, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared on Wednesday, as he promised deeper and broader ties between the two countries.
He said France and Australia were “forces for good” in the world and highlighted greater co-operation in defence, trade, and regional security in the Pacific, Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Mr Macron responded by saying Australia and France had “one shared goal, that is to place our two countries at the heart of a new Indo-Pacific axis”.
Standing alongside visiting Mr Macron on the lawns of Kirribilli House on Wednesday, Mr Turnbull avoided direct criticism of China’s growing power in the region, but pointedly emphasised that the Asian giant’s ability to lift millions of its people out of poverty had been well-served by a rules-based international order.
That order had to be preserved, he said, quoting Singaporean founder Lee Kuan Yew’s dictum that “we don’t want to have a world where the big fish eat the little fish, and the little fish eat the shrimp”.
Mr Turnbull said Australia and France shared a “vision of a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific” and would work together to realise that vision through greater maritime co-operation, support for infrastructure in the region, and humanitarian and disaster relief.
“France is a Pacific power and its significant presence in the region can only bring benefits to Australia and to the region more broadly” Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Macron warned that it was important to have “balance” and “not to have any hegemony in the region”. He pointed out that after Brexit, France would be the only EU power in the Pacific.