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Diplomatic appointment: the Russian Federation

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, today announced the appointment of Mr Geoffrey Bentley as Ambassador of Australia to the Russian Federation. Mr Bentley replaces Mr Cavan Hogue who was Ambassador from 1991.

Senator Evans said that the momentous changes in Russia in recent years, and the end of the Cold War, had unveiled significant opportunities for close cooperation with Australia. "Russia is a major world power with whom Australia has a special interest in expanding commercial and cultural relations".

Senator Evans said he was encouraged by President Yeltsin's commitment to political and economic reform and that Russia's continued transition to a market economy would provide opportunities to businesses from both countries. Australian companies have a particular interest in Pacific Russia, and the further development of that region will provide opportunities for it to benefit from the rapid economic growth of the Asia Pacific region.

Senator Evans said that as well as building on our solid bilateral relations, Australia will continue to seek opportunities to work closely with Russia on a range of multilateral issues including trade, security and cooperation in the United Nations.

Mr Bentley is a senior career officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, whose most recent appointment has been as Senior Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (1993 - 4). He joined the Department of External Affairs from BHP in 1963 and subsequently served in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, Phnom Penh and Singapore. From 1989 to 1992 Mr Bentley was Consul-General in Hong Kong and Macau.

Mr Bentley was born in Forbes, New South Wales, in 1941 and was educated at Coffs Harbour and Cessnock High Schools. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Newcastle University.

Mr Bentley will take up his appointment in Moscow at the beginning of November.

It is proposed that Mr Bentley also be accredited, subject to discussions now proceeding, to Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armeia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.