Maritime security and regional stability were key points of discussion when Minister for Defence David Johnston and the Timor-Leste Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Júlio Tomás Pinto met in Canberra.
Senator Johnston said today’s meeting addressed bilateral defence activities including the Defence Cooperation Program.
“Australia and Timor-Leste share a close and cooperative defence relationship and, as close neighbours, both countries are committed to supporting regional stability,” Senator Johnston said.
“The security situation in Timor-Leste has remained calm and stable over the past few years, and Australia acknowledges the efforts of the Government and the people of Timor-Leste in achieving these conditions.”
He also welcomed Timor-Leste’s efforts to build its maritime capability and its intent to contribute to maritime security, particularly through its involvement in multilateral fora such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium, and its participation in the observer program of maritime security activities including Exercise Kakadu.
The meeting included a discussion on the Pacific Maritime Security Program. Although this program has a primary focus on the Pacific, Senator Johnston noted that Timor-Leste will be invited to participate as the program offers a useful mechanism to provide the Timorese with maritime support.
“Timor-Leste and Australia have a shared interest in the prevention of transnational crimes such as drug trafficking, people smuggling and illegal fishing, and this program would support Timor-Leste’s maritime security efforts,” the Defence Minister said.
During his trip to Australia, Dr Pinto will meet with the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Dennis Richardson, the Chief of the Defence Force General, David Hurley and officials from national security agencies. He will also visit training institutions to observe police, military and maritime training.
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston's Office) 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office) 0477 389 554
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999