I leave Australia tonight to visit the United States from Sunday 24 July to Wednesday 27 July.
I will attend meetings in New York and Washington. I will be accompanied by the Secretary of Defence, Dr Ian Watt, and the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
This will be my first visit to the United States as Minister for Defence, but my sixth visit to the United States as a Minister.
In New York I will meet with the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior UN officials. I look forward to discussing with the Secretary General Australia’s involvement in UN missions, including the new UN mission in South Sudan and ongoing missions in Afghanistan and East Timor.
Australia has a long commitment to United Nations peacekeeping missions and broader peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities. More than 500 Australian Defence Force personnel are deployed to UN Security Council mandated peacekeeping operations around the world.
In Washington I will meet with the Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta and other senior US officials.
We will discuss progress in Afghanistan, the transition to Afghan-led security responsibility, and prospects for reconciliation and political settlement.
I will also hold discussions with key United States Government and Industry representatives on important defence capabilities, including the Joint Strike Fighter and Australia’s Future Submarine Program.
Discussions will also include our close bilateral cooperation on security matters in the Asia-Pacific region, including through the United States Global Force Posture Review and Australia’s own Defence Force Posture Review.
In this its 60th Anniversary year my visit will underline the importance and value of Australia’s Alliance with the United States, which remains the cornerstone of our strategic and security arrangements.