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Phil Goff meets Australian counterpart in Sydney

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Defence

7 March 2008

Defence Minister Phil Goff meets Australian counterpart in Sydney

Defence Minister Phil Goff today met with his Australian counterpart Joel Fitzgibbon in Sydney to discuss our strong shared interests on defence.

The meeting – the first for the two Ministers – provided a timely opportunity to review the two nations’ defence commitments, particularly in our common theatres of operation – Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan – and discuss regional and global security challenges.

Discussions reaffirmed the practical value of the alliance, particularly in the context of the security and stability challenges confronting many countries in our shared Pacific neighbourhood.

The Ministers highlighted the excellent interoperability between the New Zealand and Australian Defence Forces, forged through successive regional deployments and regular combined exercises, such as those which took place off Townsville in February. They also discussed the importance of continuing efforts to work closely together to ensure the two nations are well placed to perform effectively and professionally into the future.

In the wake of the deeply concerning attacks on Timor-Leste’s leaders on 11 February, the Ministers discussed the urgent need to work with the Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations to provide a stable and secure environment for all East Timorese. They discussed the vital role played by New Zealand and Australian personnel serving with the International Stabilisation Force in helping Timor-Leste through this challenging period. Ministers also committed to strengthening New Zealand and Australia’s joint efforts to support reformed capacity-building in Timor-Leste’s security sector.

Ministers reinforced their firm commitment to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which continues to underpin security and provide the necessary support to enable government institutions to run effectively. They drew special attention to the exemplary role played by New Zealand and Australian troops and their Pacific island nation counterparts in supporting a peaceful transition of government in Solomon Islands in December 2007.

The Ministers also discussed mutual global security concerns, with a particular focus on Afghanistan, where both countries’ defence forces are currently deployed to support vital security and reconstruction efforts.

ENDS

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