Britain and Australia Reiterate Close Partnership on Security Issues
Britain and Australia reiterated their close partnership on a range of security and foreign policy issues. This was expressed in a joint statement, marking the end of their 7th Australia-UK Ministerial Consultations. Both the countries stressed the need for working closely in fighting international terrorism and foreign fighters controlled by Islamic State in the Middle East.
Elaborating the areas of cooperation, the statement said, "Our agenda focused on the Middle East, including responding to the growing threat of Daesh also known as ISIL and foreign fighters, Afghanistan, the evolving security situation in East Asia, and defence planning and inter-operability. Our dialogue on these issues reinforced the value of the strong co-operation between our countries," reports Xinhua.
Defence White Paper
Accordingly, the two governments will continue consultations on the Australian Defence White Paper and the U.K. Strategic Defence and Security Review to exchange views on strategic issues that appear on the UN Security Council agenda "building on Australia's successful two-year term on the Council."
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and the U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also signed a memorandum of understanding on the reciprocal use of diplomatic facilities in times of crisis. Under the deal, officials in both countries will have the liberty to use the other country's diplomatic facilities in locations where one of the countries has a diplomatic mission but the other does not.
During the consultations, Australia's Defence Minister Kevin Andrews and U.K. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon discussed the ways to improve interoperability between the two armed forces and enhance cooperation on the Joint Strike Fighter plan. It was also decided to enlarge the scope of the dialogue surrounding maritime capability and emerging defence technologies.
Meanwhile, visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond apprised Austrlia of the threats from violent extremism, and the need to deal with terror groups such as Islamic State, reports SBS News.Hammond said the U.K. and Australia were involved in a generational struggle, but "determined to remain unflinching in our resolve to stand firm and to confront this poisonous ideology."
Russian aggression in Ukraine also featured in the discussions. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the U.K. and Australia were grappling with the threat of terrorism "that is more complicated, more diversified, more dangerous than ever before".
The bilateral meeting also discussed the Five Eyes project that includes the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK and New Zealand and underscored the need to share more information and intelligence.
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