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Minister for Defence to visit Spain.



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THE HON JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

www.defence.gov.au

Tuesday, 25 November 2008 185/2008

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE TO VISIT SPAIN

Minister for Defence, The Hon Joel Fitzgibbon, will visit Spain from 23 to 25 November and meet with the Spanish Defence Minister, Ms Carme Chacon, and Foreign Minister, Mr Miguel Angel Moratinos.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to discuss Defence and security issues with Ms Chacon, and to advance Spain’s and Australia’s very productive defence relationship, which is underpinned by cooperation on several major Defence acquisition projects,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I look forward to finalising the Memorandum of Understanding in the field of Defence Materiel Cooperation, which will provide considerable advantage to both our nations.”

This Memorandum of Understanding will better enable the exchange of technical information, personnel and training as well as production, quality assurance and follow-on product support.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Naval Cooperation was signed during the Deputy Chief of Navy’s visit to Spain in November.

“This will be a great opportunity to strengthen relationships with our Spanish friends, a valuable relationship I hope will continue to grow in the future,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“I will also discuss the importance of the NATO commitment to Afghanistan, the progress of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission and the success of Australian efforts in Oruzgan Province.”

The Minister will also meet the Spanish defence equipment experts in Madrid and Ferrol in Northern Spain, as well as visit Spanish companies, including Navantia, which play a lead role in building several major ADF capabilities such as Air Warfare Destroyers, Amphibious ships and Air-to-Air Refuelling Tanker-Transport aircraft.

The Minister will also announce that Defence will establish a resident Defence Attaché position in Madrid.

“This decision reflects the importance of a Defence relationship with Spain and reciprocates the posting of a resident Defence Attaché to Canberra in November 2007,” he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon will next travel to Ferrol in Northern Spain to view the progress of major Defence projects.

Media note: Imagery will be available at www.defence.gov.au/media/download

Media contacts: Jack Smith (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0408 116 423

Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664