In his first visit to Australia, the Afghan Minister for Defense, His Excellency Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, today met with Defence Minister Senator David Johnston in Canberra.
Senator Johnston said the visit – which included attending the Victoria Cross Investiture Ceremony for Corporal Cameron Baird at Government House - strengthened the already close bonds between the two countries.
Minister Mohammadi said he “was extremely honoured to be invited to the Victoria Cross Ceremony and pay special tribute to one of Australia’s true heroes.” He also expressed “the Government of Afghanistan’s deep gratitude to Australia for its sacrifice and ongoing support.”
Senator Johnston congratulated Minister Mohammadi on the work of the Afghan National Army in taking responsibility for security in Uruzgan province.
“It is important to acknowledge that this success in Uruzgan and elsewhere in Afghanistan has been achieved through significant sacrifices by the Afghan National Security Forces,” Senator Johnston said.
“Minister Mohammadi’s first visit to Australia has given me the opportunity to personally reaffirm Australia’s ongoing commitment to the people of Afghanistan.”
Senator Johnston said other discussions focussed on regional Defence engagement, and the importance of cooperation between defence forces on shared challenges, such as disaster response and international terrorism.
During his visit, Minister Mohammadi also had the opportunity to see first hand some of the training that Special Forces undergo at Holsworthy Barracks in Sydney.
Senator Johnston said Uruzgan province and the Australian Defence Force’s support to the Afghan National Security Forces had become part of Australia’s and Afghanistan’s shared history.
Since withdrawing from Uruzgan, the Australian Defence Force has committed around 400 personnel to support the development of the Afghan National Security Forces through a nationally?oriented training and advisory support mission.
The Australian Defence Force will be part of NATO’s continuing Afghan train, advise and assist mission after the end of 2014 subject to appropriate legal arrangements covering Australia’s forces.
Australia has also committed $100 million US dollars per year, for the next three years, to continue to support the development and sustainment of the Afghan National Security Forces, with $80 million dollars of that commitment each year directed towards the Afghan National Army.
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston’s office) 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s office) 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999