Tonight, I depart Australia for New York and Washington DC for meetings with senior United Nations and United States officials.
This will be my fifth visit to the United States as Minister for Defence.
In New York, I will meet with senior officials from the United Nations. This will be my first visit to United Nations Headquarters since Australia assumed our seat on the United Nations Security Council in January this year.
I look forward to discussing issues currently before the Council, including Syria and North Korea.
I will speak to the United Nations Security Council Arria Formula Meeting on Implementing the UN Security Council’s Women, Peace and Security agenda. I will also affirm Australia’s ongoing support to United Nations’ peacekeeping operations. Australia has been a longstanding supporter of peacekeeping operations around the world and has contributed 65,000 personnel to around 50 peacekeeping operations since the inception of the UN.
I will also visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, a tribute of remembrance and honour to the nearly 3000 people, including 10 Australians, who died in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.
In Washington DC, I will lay a wreath at the Arlington National Cemetery which is the final resting place for over 14,000 United States veterans. I will be accompanied by the Secretary of Defence, Dennis Richardson, and the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
I will meet with US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel. This will be my first meeting with Secretary Hagel since he was appointed US Secretary of Defence earlier this year.
This will be an opportunity to brief the US Administration on the 2013 Defence White Paper, which highlights Australia’s Alliance with the United States as a foundation for our defence, security and strategic arrangements.
I will reaffirm Australia’s strong support for the US’ continued commitment to the Indo-Pacific region and discuss our enhanced practical cooperation with the US, as an essential part of Australia’s contribution to regional peace and stability. We will also discuss the drawdown of operations in Afghanistan, North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and security challenges in the Middle East.
We will discuss progress on the implementation of the force posture initiatives agreed by Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama in November 2011. These initiatives involve rotational deployments of United States Marine Corps personnel to northern Australia and increased rotations of US Air Force aircraft through northern Australia. We also agreed to explore possible increased naval cooperation through HMAS Stirling and other facilities at AUSMIN in Perth last year.
I also look forward to discussing progress in key acquisition programs, including the Joint Strike Fighter, and our enhanced cooperation in the new and emerging security challenges of space and cyber.
Our cooperation in these areas demonstrates the Alliance’s endurance and adaptability to contemporary challenges.
Minister Smith’s office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528