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What’s in the New Brunei-New Zealand Defense Dialogue?

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A closer look at the significance of a recent development in the bilateral defense relationship.

Last week, Brunei and New Zealand held what was officially characterized as their inaugural formal bilateral defense talks. The new development put the focus on the Brunei-New Zealand defense relationship as well as the broader state of bilateral ties more generally.

Brunei and New Zealand have long had a defense relationship as part of their wider bilateral ties. Apart from regular aspects of bilateral military ties, including visits, exchanges, educational links, and collaboration in multilateral fora including ASEAN-led institutions, Brunei has been a recipient of assistance and training from New Zealand since the years that immediately preceded the country’s independence back in 1982.

Earlier this month, the security aspect of ties was in the spotlight again with the holding of the inaugural bilateral defense dialogue between the two sides. Per Brunei’s defense ministry (MINDEF), what was officially characterized as “inaugural Bilateral Defense Talks” between both countries was held at Brunei’s defense ministry on March 4.

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During the talks, which were headed by the director of defense policy on the Brunei side, Haji Adi Ihram bin Dato Paduka Haji Mahmud, and the visiting head of the international branch of New Zealand’s defense ministry, Eamonn O’Shaughnessy, both sides touched on a range of items within the existing bilateral military relationship as well as exchanged views on regional and global issues that were of mutual interest to them.

Apart from the talks themselves, O’Shaughnessy also met with several other Brunei defense officials, including the permanent secretary of the ministry of defense. According to MINDEF, he also provided a sense of New Zealand’s own defense thinking with a presentation on its defense policy and upcoming investments in its capabilities.

Unsurprisingly, not much in the way of further specifics was publicly disclosed by either side on their private deliberations or future aspects of defense collaboration that may be pursued. Nonetheless, Brunei’s defense ministry said that both sides had reviewed aspect of bilateral ties and had also expressed hope to progress the defense relationship further in the coming years.



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