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Russia signs on to proliferation security initiative.



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER FA74 2 June 2004

RUSSIA SIGNS ON TO PROLIFERATION SECURITY INITIATIVE

I welcome Russia’s decision to join a global initiative to stem the illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction.

Russia will become the 15th country to participate in the core group of the Proliferation Security Initiative, currently supported by more than 60 countries.

As a major power, with extensive land and sea borders, Russia stands to make a significant contribution to the effectiveness of the initiative. Other core group participants are Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and United States.

The Proliferation Security Initiative was announced by United States President Bush in Krakow on 31 May last year.

It is disappointing that the Australian Labor Party is yet to declare its support for this important and practical initiative. Global efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons should be above party politics and anti-American posturing.

In just one year, the security initiative has harnessed strong international support and is rapidly building operational capacity through a series of sea, air and land interdiction exercises. More exercises based on real-life scenarios and experts meetings are planned in keeping with the PSI’s operational focus.

Over 60 countries attended a Global PSI Meeting held in Poland this week to mark the first anniversary of the initiative.

The meeting in Krakow was addressed by satellite by US President Bush and Polish President Kwasniewski.

The Australian Delegation to the Global Meeting was led by Mike Smith, Ambassador to the United Nations and Permanent Representative.

Australia will continue to work with others through the Proliferation Security Initiative to send a clear message that WMD proliferation must stop.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / 0419 206 890 Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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