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Minister to visit New Zealand and Solomon Islands.



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Media contacts Sascha Meldrum (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7800 0409 034 241

Defence Media Liaison 02 6265 3343 0408 498 664

www.defence.gov.au

MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate

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Wednesday, 21 July 2004 139/2004

MINISTER TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND AND SOLOMON ISLANDS

Defence Minister Robert Hill will this week visit New Zealand for annual Defence Ministerial talks and will then travel to Honiara to mark the first anniversary of the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).

Senator Hill and New Zealand Defence Minister Mark Burton will hold their bilateral Defence Ministers’ meeting on Friday, 23 July, in Taupo, New Zealand. This will be the third annual meeting attended by the two Ministers, in addition to other informal meetings held during the year.

The Ministers will discuss regional and global security issues, as well as the conduct of operations in which both nations are participating, such as the Defence support provided to the Solomon Islands.

They will also discuss aspects of the Australia-New Zealand Alliance including strategic assessment and planning, capability development, combined and joint operations command, control and communications, training, exercising, personnel development and logistics support systems.

On Saturday, Senator Hill will travel to Honiara to represent the Australian Government at the first anniversary of RAMSI.

“I am looking forward to meeting many of the regional leaders and senior military representatives who have contributed to the success of RAMSI,” Senator Hill said.

“It is an important event which marks the significant steps that have been taken over the past twelve months to improve the lives of Solomon Islanders through the re-establishment of law and order, economic reform and the re-building of government institutions.”

Senator Hill plans to meet with the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, and his Cabinet Ministers to discuss the progress of the mission and governance reforms.

Senator Hill will also take time to meet with Australian military personnel serving in the Solomons as part of Operation Anode.

“I am proud of the contribution that the Australian Defence Force has provided to support the participating Police Force and the mission as a whole,” Senator Hill said.

“The first anniversary celebrations coincide with a further drawdown of the military component of RAMSI following progress in the restoration of law and order.”