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Australia And NATO See Eye To Eye

  • December 6th, 2008
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

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The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith jetted off to Brussels earlier this week to meet with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) ambassadors including the Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer.

The Minister had much business to attend to, including discussions on bilateral interests between Australia and the alliance over commitments in Afghanistan.

AFGHANISTAN

Mr Smith spoke with NATO officials on Monday (01.12.08), exchanging views on the global security environment and the issue of both military and non-military action in Afghanistan …calling again for a long term political solution to the problem.

The Minister told ABC Radio that Australia and the 26 NATO countries agreed that Afghanistan was a current “hotbed of international terrorism”.

“We need to see an enhanced military contribution as well as an enhanced civilian capacity building contribution”, he said, on Wednesday.

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Mr. Smith referred to “building contribution”, as a need to train the Afghan army and police, as well as build state institutions to enable the government and people to manage their own affairs.
The Minister said Australia would pledge $10 million to Afghanistan’s ‘Community Clearpath’ Program as part of its non-military based contributions.

The NATO meeting also welcomed the newly elected American President’s commitment to enhance contributions from 20.1.09.

While in Brussels, the Minister also signed the Australia-EC Wine Agreement (see EUAustralia, ‘New Deal To Protect Prestigious European Wines’, 4.12.08).

CONVENTION IN OSLO

Later at Oslo, Mr Smith signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions; as part of a push for the international community to act against humanitarian harm caused by cluster munitions.

The signing of the treaty will mean Australia will support victim assistance for survivors of cluster munitions, as well as provide assistance in the clearance of the mines in affected communities.

Reference:

North Atlantic Treaty Organisaton (NATO), Home, www.nato.int,(6.12.008).
Australia Defence, Home, www.dfat.gov.au, (6.12.08).

Picture: (Top) Left to right: Stephen Smith (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia) shaking hands with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

(Middle): Left to right: Stephen Smith (Minister of Foreign Affairs, Australia) in discussion with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and other NATO officials.

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