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NZ looks at ASEAN security treaty

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says she is considering joining a Southeast Asian non-aggression treaty that would put the Pacific country at odds with neighbor Australia.The pact, set up in 1976 by the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN), is known as the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.Australia has declined to sign the treaty because of its existing ANZUS alliance with the United States.Clark and Australian Prime Minister John Howard attended the ASEAN summit in Vientiane, Laos, earlier this week, where they agreed to launch negotiations on a free trade agreement with the 10 members of ASEAN early in 2005.Clark released a statement Wednesday saying she told the ASEAN leaders that New Zealand was “studying, with positive intent, possible accession to the 1976 treaty”.”This would be a signal that New Zealand shares ASEAN’s desire to strengthen peace and stability in Southeast Asia,” she said.

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