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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) housing is one of those areas,

we need to understand that in

that context. Thanks for

joining us this morning. The

Minister for Foreign Affairs

Stephen Smith is about to

travel to Ethiopia to attend

the Foreign Ministers meeting

of the African Union, the first

time an Australian Foreign

Minister attended the meeting,

Steinn Smith joins us from the

ABC's Perth news -- Stephen

Smith joins us from the ABC's

Perth newsroom. The first time

an Australian Foreign Minister

attended such a meeting, the

first question is why go? Well

Australia's relationship with

Africa, the nation states of

Africa and the continent itself

need to be, in our view

substantially enhanced. We have

a growing economic relationship

with the continent of Africa,

we have the minerals and

petroleum resources industry of

Australia active in Africa, and

the people to people and

economic contacts have gotten

ahead of Government to

Government contact. We have

10,000 African students in

Australia studying, a large

number of Australians in the

continent living and working

there, and we think our

relationships need to be

substantially enhanced. We

think there's a lot Australia

can bring to the continent to

advance economic and social

interests. Is going to the

meeting a important step in

Australia gaining a spot on the

UN Security Council in

2013/2014. Whether we were running for

running for a Security Council

spot and whatever the timetable

our strong view is that it's

seption that we enhance these

relationships -- essential that

we enhance these relationships.

We've had a got relationship

with South Africa and other

southern African countries, and

part to the north, closer to

the Mediterranean, there's a

raft of nation states and arse

of Africa where we have

of Africa where we have let our

-- areas of Africa where we let

the relationship slip or not

pursued that engagement as

vijerrously as we could.

Irrespective, it's in

Australia's national interest

to pursue economic and social

and diplomatic tie,, we

strongly committed, as you

would know to helping Africa

achieve the Millennium development goal, there's

development goal, there's a lot

Australia can bring in terms of

our own areas of expertise,

whether it's food security,

whether it's child or maternal

health, whether it is

agricultural products

generally, but also not just in

development assistance, or

achieving Millennium

development goals, as I said

earlier we have substantial

economic contact between

Australia and the continent of

Africa through the minerals and

petroleum resources industry,

Australia is a world class

competitor in that area,

there's plenty of economic

opportunities, as well as

opportunities to help advance

Africa's social and economic

progress. Zimbabwe is an

important issue of the moment.

The situation there seems to be

dragging on and on.

Neighbouring countries, we hear

factor in this in terms over and over are the crucial

factor in this in terms of

getting a peaceful outcome. Who

are you going to talk to about

the Zimbabwe issue when you are

there, what are you going to be

telling them. Well, the

chairperson of the commission,

of the foreign minister's

African Union Commission John

Ping made it clear he sees the

issue as being a clear part of

forep the African Union summit of

forep Ministers, we have the

sorp African development

community holding talks in

Pretoria between Mugabe and

Morgan Tsvangirai, and we urge

and hope those talks come to a

conclusion. Australia's view

for some time has been the best

solution is for Mr Mugabe to

walk off the stage. But in the

absence of that, it's

political agreement for a absolutely essential that the

Government of national union,

struck some three or four

months ago is brought to

fruition with Mr Morgan

Tsvangirai having an important

part in that process to go some

way to reflecting the will of

the Zimbabwe people. I expect

that Africa will be discussed

at the summit. I expect as I

have bilateral conversations

with my Foreign Minister

tierial colleagues, that'll

tierial colleagues, that'll be

an issue I raise and we

discuss. I understand Robert

Mugabe will be sending a

delegate to this meeting, will

you hole talks with that

delegate? At this stage I have

no proposals or suggestions

that I'll meet with the -

Mugabe's Foreign Minister. Mr

Morgan Tsvangirai, there are

suggestions that he may go as

well if Morgan Tsvangirai is

will, I'll happily have a

meeting with Mr Chank, our view

of the brutal -- Morgan

Tsvangirai, our view of the

regime is long standing,

well-known, I won't propose to

meet with sfim where are

Foreign Minister or Mugabe's --

Zimbabwe, Foreign Minister or

Mugabe's Foreign Minister, I

note the European Union

indicated an inhancement much

economic sanctions so far as

the Mugabe regime is concern.

We welcome that before the end

of last year, Australia also

enhanced financial travel

sanctions against individuals

and companies associated with

the brutal Mugabe regime, we

welcome the European union

enhanced sanctions, and we also

continue to urge the southern

holding African development community

holding talks in Pretoria to

bring them to a successful

conclusion. Turning to another

issue, there are reports that

Australian officials have been

involved in talks with Japan,

to possibly set up a deal where

Japan can take more whales in

the Northern Pacific in return

for staying out of the Southern

Ocean, were Australian

officials involved in those

talks, and would you support such an

such an initiative. The

Australian Government's

objective is that Japan cease

commercial whaling or lethal

scientific whaling, our

priorities for that whaling to

sees in the.5s, there's been

discussions at the IWC,

Commission, Peter Garrett made International Whaling

it clear overnight. There's

been discussions at the IWC been discussions at the IWC as

one would expect. These are a

long way from a formal proposal

or anything the Australian

Government greed to. Lots of discussions and suggestions

the International Whaling made when you have a group like

Commission. Any formal

proposals will be brought by

the chairman of the IWC to a

meeting in March, there's

plenty of water to flow under

the bridge between now and

then. These discussions, I then. These discussions, I

understand it have been taking

plagues, they are a long way

from any formal proposal or

suggestion, anything the

Australian Government has

agreed to, our priority remains

Japanese ceasing whaling and

our overall active is for it to

end completely. I notice you

point out the priority is the

Southern Ocean , would you be

comfortable with a proposal

that involved Japan that involved Japan staying out

of the Southern Ocean in return

for more kills in the northern

Pacific. Our overall objective,

long-term, is for the Japanese

to cease whaling. The priority

is the.5s, yes there's been

discussions amongst officials

at the IWC about a range of

suggestions or proposals,

nothing formal suggested, the

chairman of the IWC Mr Hogarth

is required tore needs to bring

such suggestions forward to the

next intercessional meeting of

the IWC in March. There's no

formal proposal as such, it's

clear from reports quoming out

of the IWC that -- coming out

of the IWC that reports of this

nature have come out, it's a

long way from us agreeing with

them. The Australian Government

announced increased aid for the

people of Gaza after his

election Barack Obama came out

strongly in support of the

plight of the people of Gaza

calling for Israel to open the

bored, are you similarly

changing your rhetoric on the

issuu of Gaza now? No, the

Australian Government's

position on Gaza has been exactly the same

exactly the same from day one,

which was we believe that

Israel's right to exist in

peace as a nation state ought

to be respected, but also when

it came to civilian casualties

in war, we had to ensure that

nation states and other

organisations respected

humanitarian law, respected the

rights of civilians, and we

urged all concerned to do their

best to avoid civilian

casualties, What about the

issue of Israel opening the

borders? Unfortunately we

didn't see - we saw very many

civilian casualties, a great

tragedy, which is why we

indicated $10 million of

humanitarian assistance, we

urged all concerned to respect

the resolution of the Security

Council, 18 60 ensuring there's

a durable and long-term

ceasefire between Israel and

Hamas, but humanitarian

assistance is rendered. We want

to ensure ever Yi is given to

render humanitarian assistance

to the people of Gaza, I have

announced overnight that we are

doubling the contribution to

humanitarian assistance in Gaza

that we have announced during

the current conflict, and $2

million of the additional $5

million is for Australian NGOs,

and Bob McMullen who will be in

detailed discussion with

Australian NGOs to determine

the details of those, we

strongly urge all concern ed

that ensure that humanitarian

assistance can be resheded to

the people of Gaza -- rendered