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New Zealand and Australian Defence Ministers meet in Wellington.

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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

Friday, 22 August 2008 104/2008


The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon, met with his New Zealand counterpart, the Hon. Phil Goff, in Wellington today to discuss a range of shared defence interests and security challenges.

This was the first meeting of the two Ministers in New Zealand, where they paid tribute to the excellent shape of the bilateral defence relationship and the practical value of the alliance.

While the two defence forces have always been close, successive deployments on combined and coalition operations have accelerated efforts to deepen interoperability. The Ministers agreed on the mutual benefits of sustaining this strong momentum.

The Ministers reaffirmed their mutual commitment to work together to promote security, stability and development in the Pacific and East Timor.

Australia and New Zealand’s ongoing efforts to supplement national resilience in East Timor demonstrate each country’s collective resolve and commitment to our neighbour.

The Ministers discussed the necessity for continuing support to security and stability in Solomon Islands and the crucial role the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) would play in an effective transition of security responsibilities.

The Ministers talked about mutual global security concerns, particularly Afghanistan, where both countries’ defence forces are supporting vital security and reconstruction efforts.

The Ministers also reviewed their national capability development programmes, agreeing that capability alignment was essential for their mutual security and prosperity.

Mr Fitzgibbon briefed Mr Goff on the status of Australia’s new Defence White Paper, remarking that it would reaffirm the necessity for strong defence ties between our two countries.

During their meeting, the Ministers agreed to update the 2003 Joint Statement on Closer Defence Relations to reflect changes in the security environment over the past five years. The 2008 Statement elevates the primacy of coordinated defence policy and operational effectiveness as the cornerstone of the bilateral defence relationship.

Media contacts: Jack Smith (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0408 116 423

Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664