Japan to cooperate with Australia, New Zealand in maritime security

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Wednesday to cooperate in maritime security amid China's growing willingness to claim territorial interests in regional waters.

In separate meetings by Abe with Abbott and Key in Brunei, it was agreed China's territorial disputes with some ASEAN nations in the South China Sea need to be resolved in accordance with international law, while the leaders also confirmed plans to cooperate in maintaining stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese officials said.

The Japanese and Australian leaders also agreed to further promote cooperation among Japan, Australia and the United States in the security and defense areas, following a meeting last week where the foreign ministers of the three countries discussed issues of common concern, including China's maritime assertiveness.

Abe and Abbott also confirmed plans to strengthen economic ties between the two countries through a bilateral free trade agreement and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, according to the officials.

At his meeting with Abe, New Zealand's Key expressed hope to deepen cooperation between the two countries in antidisaster efforts as both countries suffered large earthquakes in 2011.

The bilateral meetings were held on the sidelines of a series of summits related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Brunei on Wednesday and Thursday.

On the fringes on Wednesday, Abe also held bilateral talks with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei and Philippine President Benigno Aquino, and also had chat with Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.