Today in Canberra, on behalf of Foreign Minister Carr, who is representing Australia at the United Nations, I hosted Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Dr Zalmai Rassoul.
I last met Minister Rassoul during my visit to Afghanistan last month.
Minister Rassoul and I laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial and we conducted a formal bilateral meeting.
Our discussions focused on Afghanistan’s transition and Australia’s role on the UN Security Council.
I reiterated Australia’s long-term support for Afghanistan’s security up to and beyond transition at the end of 2014.
Minister Rassoul and I acknowledged the increasing capability and capacity of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as they move to assume full security responsibility across Afghanistan at the national level by the middle of this year. At this time, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will shift from combat to a training and support role.
In Uruzgan Province, Australia is confident that transition will be completed by the end of this year allowing the ANSF to then take full responsibility for security.
Australia remains committed to the ISAF mission until the end of 2014 and to Afghanistan for the long-term.
Our commitment to supporting Afghanistan beyond 2014 is demonstrated by the Comprehensive Long-term Strategic Partnership signed by Prime Minister Gillard and President Karzai in May last year. This outlines cooperation in the areas of security, trade and development, as well as building the capacity of Afghanistan’s national institutions.
Australia has also committed to contributing US$100 million per year for three years from 2015 to help sustain the Afghan National Security Forces.
We also discussed the importance of reforms under the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework. I reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to supporting Afghanistan through the transition process to ensure sustainable security and development outcomes.
Minister Rassoul will also travel to Melbourne where he will attend the Opening of the ‘Afghanistan: National Treasures’ exhibition at the Melbourne Museum, accompanied by Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Mr Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528