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Visit to Belgium.



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Mr Smith’s Office: Courtney Hoogen 02 6277 7500 or 0488 244901 Departmental : (02) 6261 1555

M E D I A R E L E A S E

Stephen Smith MP Minister for Foreign Affairs

M E D I A R E L E A S E

FA173 30 November 2008

VISIT TO BELGIUM

I will visit Belgium from 30 November to 2 December.

In Brussels I will hold consultations with my Belgian, NATO and European Union (EU) counterparts.

I will meet with Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Karel De Gucht. Australia and Belgium enjoy a friendly and constructive relationship underpinned by strong historical links stemming from the involvement of Australian forces on the Western Front during World War I.

I look forward to sharing with Minister De Gucht insights and perspectives on a range of international issues of bilateral interest, including our respective commitments in Afghanistan, where Belgium is a valued ISAF partner.

My meetings at NATO Headquarters will include NATO Secretary-General De Hoop Scheffer, the NATO Political Committee and NATO Ambassadors. These meetings will provide an important opportunity to register Australia’s strong commitment to Afghanistan and exchange views on the

current global security environment.

I will also meet with the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana; the EC Commissioner for External Relations, Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner; and the EC Commissioner for Environment, Mr Stavros Dimas.

These meetings are a reflection of the commitment by Australia and the EU to more frequent high-level engagement in the new era in Australia’s relations launched by the Prime Minister and EC President Barroso in April 2008 and reflected by the Australia-EU Partnership Framework adopted by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner, French Foreign Minister Kouchner and me in Paris recently.

I will also sign the Australia-EC Wine Agreement with the EC Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Mariann Fischer Boel. The Agreement brings significant market benefits for Australian wine producers.