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NZ & Australian Defence Ministers Meet, Queenstown

New Zealand And Australian Defence Ministers Meet In Queenstown

The Defence Ministers of New Zealand and Australia met in Queenstown today to discuss key areas of interest. These included ongoing cooperation in joint operations and training, capability development, logistic support, personnel development and command, control and communications.

These annual talks, the first between the Hon Phil Goff and the Hon Dr Brendan Nelson, reconfirmed the importance of the Closer Defence Relationship (CDR), and the close and longstanding defence relationship that exists between New Zealand and Australia.

The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of New Zealand and Australia staying closely engaged on regional security issues, and working together for a secure and stable Pacific region. Recent developments in East Timor, Bougainville, and Fiji emphasised the importance of the two countries working together with their Pacific neighbours to achieve security and stability in the region.

In particular they noted that following unrest in Solomon Islands and in conjunction with our Pacific Islands partners under RAMSI our rapid combined military and police response to assist in restoring law and order underlined both countries’ commitment to the region. The deployment also displayed the high level of interoperability which exists between our two countries.

The talks also covered global security issues, including the importance of each nation’s contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction in Afghanistan.

The Ministers acknowledged the challenges confronting the region arising from the threat of terrorism, and particularly the increasing focus on a secure maritime environment. They emphasised the importance of strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation in both of these fields.

The Ministers expressed their commitment to further joint exercising. They noted that despite the heightened operational tempo being experienced by both Defence forces, continued participation in a broad bilateral and multilateral exercise programme remained essential to ensure both Defence Forces maintain the complementary skills and capabilities necessary to deploy and work together.

As part of each countries commitment to preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Ministers also noted the importance of the recent Australian hosted Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) exercise Pacific Protector in April. New Zealand was an active participant in this exercise.

Australia and New Zealand will continue to look to develop further areas of collaboration and information sharing. This includes in logistics and communications fields as well as key areas of capability development including the acquisition of troop lift helicopters, ANZAC ship upgrades and the replacement of Army vehicle transport fleets and artillery and small arms replacement projects.

The Defence Ministers plan to meet again in mid 2007 to review progress in deepening CDR in Australia.

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