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Australia has devoted particular attention to relations between developed and developing nations, with emphasis on the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Brunei – and the island states of the South Pacific.Australia is an active participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which promotes regional co-operation on security issues.
Given its history of starting and supporting important regional and global initiatives, it has been described as a regional middle power par excellence.
It has become steadfastly allied with New Zealand, through long-standing ties dating back to the 1800s, as well as the United States, throughout the Cold War and since.
Australia has been active in the Australia – New Zealand – United Kingdom agreement and the Five Power Defence Arrangement—successive arrangements with Britain and New Zealand to ensure the security of Singapore and Malaysia.
In 1999 Australian peace keeping forces intervened in East Timor following its referendum to secede from Indonesia.
Key concerns include free trade, terrorism, refugees, economic co-operation with Asia and stability in the Asia-Pacific.
Australia is active in the United Nations and the Commonwealth of Nations.Australia also received 26 combat aircraft from the USA, with 82 more on order (see box 3), as well as 8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft from the USA and 3 Hobart destroyers from Spain.Australia has diplomatic representatives in over 90 locations.Australia had been reluctant to sign the treaty out of concerns regarding how it would affect Australia's obligation under other treaty arrangements including ANZUS.Papua New Guinea (PNG), a former Australian territory, is the largest recipient of Australian assistance.Over recent decades Australia has sought to strengthen its relationship with Asian countries, with this becoming the focus of the country's network of diplomatic missions.