30 May 2009

Australia's PM still keen on APc grouping

9:51 am on 30 May 2009

Undaunted by the mixed reaction to his proposed new Asia-Pacific Community or APc, Australia's Prime Minister plans to invite regional leaders to meet in Australia this year to discuss the idea.

Kevin Rudd first raised the idea of a new grouping of nations aimed at bringing together the United States, China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Australia, among others in the region, nearly a year ago.

His special envoy appointed to explore the idea of the APc, former senior diplomat Richard Woolcott, has reported support for discussion about the community but no "appetite" for yet another forum or regular meeting.

Mr Rudd said Mr Woolcott found widespread recognition that a single forum for leaders to meet and discuss political, economic and security challenges together was lacking.

Mr Rudd said that without a vehicle such as his proposed APc he was concerned about "the possibility of strategic drift within the region" in the long term.

He said he planned to invite leaders of nations in Asia, Oceania and the eastern Pacific to Australia "to further explore the idea of an Asia-pacific community" by 2020.

Mr Rudd has argued that bodies such as the Asia Pacific Economic Community, the Association of South-East Asian Nations and the East Asia Summit each have their singular focus.