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NZ/Australia to Discuss Closer Defence Relations

New Zealand and Australian Defence Ministers to discuss Closer Defence Relations, evaluate progress

Minister of Defence Mark Burton left for Australia today for the Australia/New Zealand Defence Committee—the annual meeting with his Australian counterpart, Senator Robert Hill.

Ministerial discussions are expected to include the Closer Defence Relations agreement between the two nations, as well as evaluating progress on the eight areas identified at their September 2002 meeting as necessary for closer collaboration. These areas included increased training opportunities, enhanced command and control of joint and combined operations, complementarity of equipment, and the sharing of research and intelligence, among others. The Ministers will also discuss acquisition projects and emerging issues of global and regional security in the Pacific region.

Mark Burton stressed the importance of working closely with Australia. “Australia and New Zealand are sovereign nations. Although we may at times take different approaches to particular issues, we have a long history of partnership. Our defence forces should be able to work together effectively to protect our shared interests of peace and stability within the Pacific region.

“It is essential that we continue to maximise mutual regional capabilities and interoperability between our two defence forces. This annual ministerial meeting is an ideal opportunity to discuss issues of shared concern to us both.”

The next annual meeting will be in mid-2004 in New Zealand.

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