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Meeting with New Zealand Defence Minister

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THE HON. JOHN MOORE, MP Minister for Defence Friday, 4 February 2000 MIN009/00

Meeting with New Zealand Defence Minister

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today held informal talks with his New Zealand counterpart, Minister Mark Burton. It was their first meeting since the change of government in New Zealand.

"Australia and New Zealand are, for all practical purposes, a single strategic entity and therefore Defence is a vital part of the trans-Tasman relationship", Mr Moore said.

The Ministers discussed the successful INTERFET operation in East Timor which is drawing to an end, and the transition to the United Nations' UNTAET operation. The talks in Brisbane followed Minister Burton's recent visit to East Timor.

"Australia has been extremely satisfied with the close cooperation between the two Defence Forces in East Timor and the essential role these forces have undertaken there."

"The effort made by Australia and New Zealand in East Timor reflects the importance each country places on security and stability in South-East Asia," Mr Moore said.

Mr Moore thanked Mr Burton for the rapid response and high quality of New Zealand's contribution to the INTERFET operation.

He added that recent combined Australia and New Zealand operations underlined the continued importance of enhancing interoperability between the two Defence Forces.

"The recent experience of East Timor and the complex regional security outlook highlight the need for both countries to maintain effective armed forces which are able to work together, to advance our shared interests."

The Ministers endorsed the close consultation that characterises the Australia-New Zealand defence relationship. They noted that both countries intend to produce reviews of Defence this year. "I look forward to continuing these discussions with Minister Burton in the course of the year, particularly the formal Ministerial consultations which are scheduled for June, in New Zealand," Mr Moore said.

Ends

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