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Minister for Defence meets with US Secretary in Poland.



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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Friday, 20 February 2009 017/2009

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE MEETS WITH US SECRETARY IN POLAND

The Minister for Defence, Mr Joel Fitzgibbon, today met with his United States counterpart, Secretary of Defense Dr Robert Gates, in Krakow, Poland to discuss the future of Afghanistan and a number of bilateral issues.

“It has been a pleasure to meet with Dr Gates again and exchange views on common security challenges,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

“It was an invaluable opportunity to discuss our shared commitment to helping the international community build a secure and stable Afghanistan.”

Mr Fitzgibbon and Dr Gates also discussed NATO’s long term strategy for Afghanistan, particularly the influx of US troops to occur in 2009.

“Australia welcomes the US’s increased focus on Afghanistan, particularly during what will be an important year in the war-torn country,” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

“An increased security presence will assist the international community in reinforcing the conditions required for reconstruction and development.”

Mr Fitzgibbon and Secretary Gates were in Krakow to attend the meetings of NATO and ISAF Defence Ministers, a forum for all nations contributing forces to Afghanistan to discuss progress.

“Australia values the opportunity to engage with ISAF nations in a NATO format, and discuss progress made on achieving our shared goals” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

Mr Fitzgibbon and Dr Gates attended an ISAF working session with other ISAF Defence Ministers, followed later in the evening by a reception hosted by the Polish Prime Minister.

Mr Fitzgibbon also met with a number of other key ISAF counterparts during his visit, including Dutch Minister of Defence Eimert van Middelkoop, Afghan Minister for Defence General Abdul Rahim Wardak, Canadian Minister of Defence Peter

MacKay and UK Secretary of State for Defence John Hutton.

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