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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1117

(Question No. 406)

Senator Bolkus asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 21 August 1985:

Can he say in respect of the Australian Ambassador in Washington, Sir Robert Cotton, the number of occasions on which he:

(a) sought; and

(b) gained an appointment to meet with the United States Secretary of State.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The answer in respect of (a) is 8, and of (b) is 5. During his period as Ambassador in Washington, Sir Robert Cotton called on the Secretary of State, Mr George Shultz, five times. Each was when accompanying visiting Australian Ministers-Mr Street in 1982 and 1983, Mr Hawke in 1983 and 1985 and Mr Hayden in 1983. He made three other requests for appointment which did not prove possible. The first was essentially for a courtesy call following his arrival in 1982. The second was prior to the 1984 ASEAN Foreign Ministers' and the ANZUS Council Meetings. The third was for a farewell call. The Secretary's declining two of these requests was in accordance with firm rules about his not receiving any of the 156 Ambassadors resident in Washington for introductory, farewell or courtesy calls. The other call was declined because Mr Shultz was making a number of overseas visits at the time and it could not be fitted into his busy schedule.

As Ambassador, Sir Robert met with Mr Shultz informally on a number of occasions, the last being when he attended the ANZAC Day memorial service in Washington Cathederal on 25 April this year. On that occasion, the Secretary of State expressed his personal regret at not being able to receive the Ambassador for a farewell call.