NATO and Australia discuss new Strategic Concept and deeper partnership

Australian Prime Minister, Julia Eileen Gillard shaking hands with NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Oct. 4, 2010.

From Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO:  As the largest non-NATO contributor of troops in Afghanistan, and indeed one of the largest contributors overall, Australia remains an important partner in our joint endeavour. And I’m glad to have the opportunity to thank you for the commitment and bravery of Australian troops and civilians deployed there. …

This morning the Prime Minister and I also discussed the central element of NATO’s new Strategic Concept; a concept which we intend to adopt at our Summit in Lisbon in November.

A key element of this concept will be a refreshed approach to NATO’s partners and it’s my hope that the Strategic Concept will open the door more widely to partnership between NATO and countries around the globe, and I hope that Australia, if it so chooses, will have the opportunity to deepen its relationship with NATO in the future. …

Julia Eileen Gillard:  I also welcome the words of the Secretary General on the Strategic Concept that NATO is developing. Obviously, as a non-NATO country, but a very significant contributor to the work in Afghanistan, Australia has been keen to ensure that we are included in all discussions of the strategy in Afghanistan. Obviously that has sparked discussion about structures and ways of engagement in the future. Australia would be looking towards having the ability to engage with NATO in a flexible way, over time, and this is being debated through and discussed in the NATO Strategic Concept. So I thank the Secretary General as well for our discussions on that topic today.

Excerpts from joint press conference by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Prime Minister of Australia, Ms Julia Eileen Gillard.  (photo: NATO)

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