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Minister for Defence to visit Brussels for NATO/ISAF Defence Ministers' Meeting

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Tuesday, 7 June 2011 12:03 AM

Minister for Defence to visit Brussels for NATO/ISAF Defence Ministers’ Meeting

I will visit Brussels today Tuesday 7 June to Thursday 9 June to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Defence Ministerial colleagues for the NATO/ ISAF Defence Ministers’ Meeting on Afghanistan.

I will hold bilateral meetings with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen, Supreme Allied Commander Europe Stavridis, Belgian Defence Minister De Crem and Afghan Defence Minister Wardak.

The NATO/ISAF Defence Ministers’ Meeting comes at a difficult time in Australia’s commitment in Afghanistan with the recent tragic deaths of Sergeant Brett Wood, Lance Corporal Andrew Jones and Lieutenant Marcus Case.

The Defence Ministers' Meeting will be a good opportunity to consider progress in Afghanistan, particularly given the beginning of the northern summer fighting season.

Australia’s mission in Afghanistan remains vital to our national security interests. We are committed to stabilising the security situation in Afghanistan and to mentoring and training the Afghan security forces to enable them to take responsibility for security in Afghanistan.

We are doing this as part of a United Nations authorised mission with the 48 member International Security Assistance Force.

There will be setbacks and adverse incidents as we have seen recently. The Taliban will strike back and try to recover ground, and they will also, as we know, try to use high-profile incidents as propaganda events to undermine confidence.

There is a long way to go, but Australia believes we have the military and political strategy in place, the resources and the people on the ground to deliver it and prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a breeding ground for international terrorists.

Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392 Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999