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We want to make no country think war is worth it: Wong

Penny Wong has remained tight lipped on whether the nation is in a military race with China, or whether Australia should sign a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Penny Wong has refused to be drawn on whether Australia is now in an arms race with China, or if the federal government should sign a treaty banning nuclear weapons. 

The foreign minister deflected several questions about whether the nation was trying to match the Asian superpower's military build up. 

"What we have to do with other countries is to ensure that there is a strategic balance in the region," she told the ABC's Insiders on Sunday.

"We want to make sure that no country ever thinks that conflict is worth it.

"That's the calculus we always have to change, and we do that both by deterrence and by reassurance."

Senator Wong said the AUKUS security pact with the US and UK contributed to regional security, and did not lead to the greater proliferation of nuclear material.

Asked if Australia should sign a treaty banning nuclear weapons, the foreign minister said it helped provide "a very important tool internationally for progressing this discussion".

Earlier this year, it was revealed Senator Wong's department warned against sending an observer to the first meeting of countries that  back the United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), is opposed by Australia's key ally, the United States, and other countries with nukes.

Senator Wong said the treaty was a "very important articulation" about people "rightly" wanting a nuclear-weapon free world.

"The way you deliver outcomes best is through the Non-Proliferation Treaty," she said.

I see the benefit, the government sees the benefit of the discussion of the TPNW and I think it reflects the aspirations that people around the world have, which is we want a world that is free of nuclear weapons."

Senator Wong said the government was discussing with its Chinese counterparts when the next foreign ministry dialogue could take place, which was expected to be held in Australia.

"I know officials are talking through when that would be convenient for a Chinese minister to attend the dialogue," she said.

Officials are discussing when Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi might visit, the foreign minister added.


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