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Aus. Joint Press Conference with Dr Paul Wolfowitz

Aus. Joint Press Conference with Dr Paul Wolfowitz

Minister for Defence Media Mail List

Saturday, 1 June, 2002 MIN 258/02


Joint Press Conference Australian Minister for Defence Senator the Hon. Robert Hill United States Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr Paul Wolfowitz Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore 8:30am, 1 June 2002

Dr Wolfowitz:

Senator Hill the Australian Defence Minister - since these are American reporters why don't I let you go first, how's that?

Senator Hill:

Well this has been a useful opportunity for Australians to again reinforce our intention to continue to contribute to the war against terror until we are all more confident that there is a much reduced chance of major terrorist events again occurring. We've been concentrating our efforts in Afghanistan itself on the ground, in the Gulf and with some air support. We now have refuellers in Kyrgyzstan refuelling American and French air combat aircraft. And we intend to continue with that contribution. It may vary from time to time as we might jointly determine is the right mix. Beyond that, we intend to continue to contribute elsewhere in the world as might be appropriate and with our resources. And like everyone else at the moment we are quite stretched. In particular, within this region we are seeking to work ... [mobile phone rings] ... we are seeking to work constructively in supporting governments that we believe are going to seriously address these issues. In particular we have been working closely with the Government of Indonesia and continue to do that. We're now exploring ways in which we can support them in some maritime surveillance work, we're increasing our intelligence exchange with Indonesia, we're talking to them about the possibility of assisting with some counter terrorism training. And that's just an example of what we're prepared to do around the region as we sort of extend our efforts beyond Afghanistan to ensure that the terrorist networks that have been established in recent years and have in fact to some extent fed off each other are not going to be able to build upon what's been established. So in other words, winning in Afghanistan we accept is not going to total picture. We need to look to the problem wherever it exists, and we see we have a particular responsibility in this part of the world to make a positive contribution.

Dr Wolfowitz:

Let me just add to that I would say Australia has once again proven to be one of our most reliable and militarily capable allies and it's great and we thank you for your ongoing contribution. We talked about Afghanistan, Indonesia, East Timor, South Pacific. If we had more time we probably could have covered quite a few other parts of the world because we have common interest in so many places. It's a pleasure to have an ally with the same pragmatic view of how to make things move forward. That was the extent of our discussions. I think we have time for about one question.


Senator, does Australia favour the United States re-establishing military to military contacts with Indonesia?

I'm reluctant to say what America should do. But TNI is an institution that is critical to the internal stability of Indonesia in the way that the military is not within our societies. And I think it's got to be a critical part of a good future for Indonesia and therefore, in terms of wanting to support and assist country as it goes through a very dramatic period of change - including change in terms of the military - and to bring good influences to bear has to be useful. ENDS


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