Australia's national security and its economic interests are inextricably linked to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The key components of Australia's security strategy are maintaining a strong national defence capability, the security alliance with the United States of America, developing bilateral defence and security relationships with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and strengthening multilateral security links in the region, especially the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Regular bilateral security dialogues with key countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and with key partners beyond the region, provide an opportunity to share views on a wide range of regional and global security issues, promote transparency and reinforce Australia's commitment to working cooperatively with regional countries on security issues. The terrorist attacks in the United States of America in September 2001 heightened the regional and international focus on security, anti-terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. This was reinforced by the bombing attacks that killed and injured many Australians and others in Bali in October 2002
The ARF is an important means of encouraging a sense of strategic community in the region. It complements bilateral links when dealing with global and regional security issues and has a role in encouraging regional support for international regimes against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In 2002 Australia negotiated bilateral agreements promoting closer cooperation on counter-terrorism with Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
Australia continues to play an active role in strengthening the international regimes to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and of missiles. An important Australian objective is to ensure that these regimes are implemented effectively in our region. Australia also encourages adherence to the international regime banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.