Posted: 8/26/2004 4:40:46 AM EDT
Missed the original story so heres an updated one sortanews.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=6245
Australia was not threatening its northern neighbours by purchasing sophisticated new long-range missiles, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said.
The government said it would spend between $350 million and $450 million on new Stealth Cruise missiles.
The announcement prompted Australian Democrats concerns that acquiring the weapons would antagonise regional countries, while Labor said the government was guilty of a diplomatic blunder by failing to inform other countries of its intentions.
Indonesia's chief foreign affairs spokesman Marty Natalegawa said while defence purchases were a decision for Australia's government, Canberra could not expect its regional neighbours to react kindly.
"You cannot arm yourselves to the teeth and expect that will lead of itself to a sense of security," he told AAP.
"You have to work with the region to share in a sense of security."
But Mr Downer said Australia was not threatening its northern neighbours.
He said Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand in particular would be briefed on Australia's plans.
"We are briefing neighbouring countries on this, particularly those that have an interest in defence cooperation issues with Australia," Mr Downer said.
"We are in the process of, at a diplomatic level, briefing them.
"They are not likely to be too concerned about it because all countries in the region continually upgrade and improve the operation of their military equipment.
"When Malaysia buys new equipment for their defence force, we don't conclude that somehow Malaysia is going to use this new defence equipment to threaten Australia, the same with Indonesia or Thailand or whoever it may be.
"And they won't draw the same conclusion in relation to Australia."