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Australia In NATO Talks On Afghan Expansion

  • February 16th, 2009
  • Posted by EUEditor

fitzgibbon-joel-google-abc.jpgThe Australian Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, has departed for Poland (15.1.09), to see partners in the military mission to Afghanistan.

Amid talk of an expanded role for Australia in that theatre, possibly to take over tasks currently led by Dutch forces in Oruzgan province, he has continued to say that such a move would depend on more effort from some of the NATO partners as well.

“We are prepared to consider requests to do more, but there are certain tests”, he told Radio Australia (14.2.09).

At Krakow in Poland he will meet Defence Ministers from other countries in the  International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan, operated by the North Atlantic alliance.

He said the gathering was “an important opportunity for those nations who have forces deployed to Afghanistan to exchange views on future plans and coordinate our efforts.”

“I look forward to working with like-minded partners to deepen cooperation and align our respective contributions”, he said.

Discussion would also focus on moves to develop  the capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces, and to safeguard elections to be held this year – when a temporary infusion of extra outside forces might be sought.

The ISAF gathering in Poland will include the Dutch Defence Minister, Eimert van Middelkoop; US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates; UK Secretary of State for Defence, John Hutton; the Canadian Defence Minister, Peter Mackay and the Afghan Minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak.

Mr Fitzgibbon is also attending a meeting of the African Union at Addis Ababa.

The Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, has gone to Pakistan (16.2.09) for talks talking on the Afghan situation and counter-terrorism issues.

Reference:

Joel Fitzgibbon, Defence Minister, Canberra,  “Minister for Defence to visit Ethiopia and Poland”, Media Release MIN 14/09, 15.2.09

Picture: Joel Fitzgibbon

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