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Minister for Defence meets with African Union representatives and counterparts in Ethiopia.



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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Wednesday, 18 February 2009 015/2009

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE MEETS WITH AFRICAN UNION REPRESENTATIVES AND COUNTERPARTS IN ETHIOPIA

The Minister for Defence, Mr Joel Fitzgibbon, has today met with the Ugandan Defence Minister, senior African Union (AU) officials and ambassadors to the AU from African nations.

“The Australian government feels that it is time to strengthen our engagement with Africa and the African Union in the fields of peace and security. Defence will establish a resident Defence Attaché, and offer Defence training in Australia to five AU-nominated officers. Currently Defence’s official representation in Africa is limited to a Defence Attaché cross accredited to South Africa from New Delhi,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“Later this year, Australia will co-host a peacekeeping symposium in Africa with the African Union and the United Nations to allow for the exchange of experience and expertise.”

“Previously, Australia has significant links to the African continent through economic contact, but primarily through the African-born Australian citizens living in Australia, and African students studying in Australia. Defence involvement has been primarily through contributions to peacekeeping.”

Mr Fitzgibbon was also able to share perspectives with his counterpart on the peacekeeping experiences of Australian and Ethiopian troops, who are both currently deployed to the UN Mission in Sudan and the UN-AU Mission in Darfur.

In his meetings with AU officials, Mr Fitzgibbon conveyed the importance Australia places on closer engagement with Africa on security issues and discussed the growing role of the AU, the regional security outlook, peacekeeping in Africa and opportunities for further cooperation in the future.

Mr Fitzgibbon will now travel to Krakow in Poland for meetings with his counterparts from the US, Canada, UK, the Netherlands, and Afghanistan.

Media contacts: Christian Taubenschlag (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0438 595 567 Jack Smith (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 62777800 or 0408 116 423 Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664