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Visit to Ireland.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA7 23 January 2004

VISIT TO IRELAND

I have completed a successful two day visit to Ireland (January 21-22) which focussed on our bilateral relationship and our relationship with the European Union under the Irish Presidency.

In a meeting with my Irish counterpart Brian Cowen, we reaffirmed the warmth of Australian-Irish relations, our close community ties and the clear mutual benefits of expanding an already healthy trade and investment relationship.

I reinforced similar themes in my meetings with President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern.

In all these meetings, I reaffirmed Australia’s support for the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland.

The European Presidency Consultations, chaired by Foreign Minister Cowen and including senior representatives of the EU Council and EU Commission, were a major component of my visit.

The consultations focused on a range of security and economic challenges confronting the international community and on ways Australia and the EU can work together to tackle them.

During the consultations I also emphasised our common interests in reinvigorating the Doha Development Round, as well as in the greater reform and liberalisation of markets, particularly agricultural markets.

I also expressed our appreciation of the EU’s significant contribution in the Asia Pacific region. This contribution has included funds for reconstruction efforts in Solomon Islands and in East Timor.

Ireland is also providing bilateral assistance to East Timor over the next three years to facilitate the development of institutions supporting local government, human rights and democratisation.

It was also my great pleasure to open the new Australian Chancery in Dublin during my visit.

The new chancery owes its contemporary design to an Australian architect employed by an Irish firm and features Blue Gum flooring and Australian artwork with Irish themes. This melding of Australian and Irish elements is an apt manifestation of our diverse relationship.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) (02) 0419 206 890 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet. http://www.dfat.gov.au/