Today in Perth I met with Nick Hækkerup, Denmark’s Minister of Defence.
Australia and Denmark enjoy a constructive and growing defence relationship.
Minister Hækkerup visited both Canberra and Perth.
Minister Hækkerup and I discussed the strategic outlook for Australia and Denmark, noting our respective plans for contributions in Afghanistan - including transition in 2014 and long-term commitments. Denmark currently has around 600 troops in Afghanistan, principally in Helmand Province.
We also discussed our shared interests in NATO. Australia is a strategic partner of NATO and Denmark is an influential member of NATO.
Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is the current NATO Secretary General and the former Danish Chief of Defence General Knud Bartels is the current Chairman of NATO's Military Committee.
Australia and NATO members such as Denmark have strong reasons to cooperate together beyond Afghanistan. The challenges of cyber security, international terrorism, nuclear proliferation and maritime security are enduring and reach beyond both Australia and Europe’s immediate region.
At the NATO Chicago Summit in May 2012, Australia participated in a unique meeting of NATO and its partners which agreed to enhance political dialogue and practical cooperation.
Minister Hækkerup and I also discussed the increasing strategic importance of the Asia Pacific region, our shared interests in counter-piracy efforts and Australia’s experiences in regional peace operations, including the Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
Australia and Denmark propose to sign a Defence Materiel Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU will foster cooperation in the use of defence technical resources and encourage and promote discussion on joint development, production and procurement of defence materiel.
I look forward to continuing to work closely with Minister Hækkerup to further enhance the Australia-Denmark defence relationship.
Minister Smith's Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528