I leave Australia tomorrow to visit the United Kingdom for the 2012 Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial (AUKMIN) Consultations in London on Monday 23 January.
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and I will lead the Australian Delegation for the annual AUKMIN consultations. I will be accompanied by the Secretary of Defence, Mr Duncan Lewis, and the Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
The UK delegation will be led by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, William Hague, and the Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond.
AUKMIN discussions will focus on the ongoing rise of the Asia Pacific, emerging powers including India, the developing security architecture in the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean and developments in the Arab world.
We will also discuss Afghanistan and the efforts of both ADF and UK service men and women to prepare the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to take lead responsibility for providing security for the Afghan people.
In London I will also have the opportunity to meet with Defence Secretary Hammond. On 24 January we will visit Portsmouth.
In Portsmouth, we will inspect the Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier currently under construction and also visit UK shore based naval test facilities.
I look forward to discussing our respective approaches to and lessons learnt on maritime capability issues and support arrangements for surface and submarine fleets, as well as identifying opportunities for future cooperation in these areas.
These discussions follow the Government’s purchase of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Largs Bay and its commissioning as the HMAS Choules on 13 December last year.
The acquisition of this ship will help ensure that the Royal Australian Navy has the amphibious capability it needs for operations and humanitarian support in our region in the period leading up to the arrival of the Royal Australian Navy’s Landing Helicopter Dock Ships in 2014 and 2015.
Mr Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Department of Defence: (02) 6127 1999