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Minister for defence meets with Dutch Foreign Minister.



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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Thursday, 22 January 2009 003/2009

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE MEETS WITH DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER

The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP yesterday met with Dutch Minister for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr Maxime Verhagen, during his visit to Australia.

“I welcome this opportunity to meet with Mr Verhagen and discuss our nations’ joint commitment to assist the Afghan Government in building long-term stability and security in Afghanistan,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I am very pleased with the level of cooperation between Australia and the Netherlands and am also very appreciative of the support that Dutch forces continue to provide to the ADF in Afghanistan.”

Mr Verhagen, who is in Australia as part of an official visit, met with Mr Fitzgibbon to discuss current and future issues relating to operations in Afghanistan and the broader Australian and Dutch Defence relationship.

“Australia and the Netherlands have a significant bilateral relationship, demonstrated by our close partnership in Afghanistan, where we are working together to achieve shared objectives in security and reconstruction efforts,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“We also value our materiel cooperation, as reflected by the recent sale of a further nine Bushmaster vehicles to the Netherlands, bringing their total order to 58.”

Australian and Dutch troops continue to serve together in Oruzgan province. Australia’s Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force (MRTF) operates as part of the Dutch Task Force - Uruzgan.

“Australian and Dutch troops work side by side in Oruzgan province bringing peace and security to the people of Afghanistan,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

The Netherlands contributes 1770 troops to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664