Today I depart Australia to visit the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 July for the inaugural 2+2 Foreign and Defence Ministers’ Meeting with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr and our ROK counterparts, Minister for National Defence Kim Kwan-jin and Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
This will be my third visit to the ROK as a Minister in the Australian Government, and my first visit as the Minister for Defence.
The ROK is a critical influence in regional stability and economic prosperity, occupying a key position in our region. Australia and the ROK are like-minded middle powers. Our bilateral relationship is underpinned by shared strategic interests and concerns.
The inaugural ‘2+2’ Meeting on Thursday 4 July reflects the commitment of both our countries to strengthening our bilateral relationship. Other than the United States, Australia is the only country to have a ‘2+2’ talks with the ROK.
Australia regularly hosts ‘2+2’ talks with the United States, Japan, Indonesia and the United Kingdom.
In Seoul, I will also participate in the second Australia-ROK Defence Ministers’ Dialogue with Defence Minister Kim on Wednesday 3 July.
Minister Kim and I held the inaugural Defence Ministers’ Dialogue in Canberra in December 2011.
We signed a comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding in the field of defence cooperation, which provides a basis for the further deepening our defence relationship.
Minister Kim and I will review our bilateral Defence-to-Defence and military-to-military relationship. We will look for further opportunities to work together to address shared security challenges.
Following the ‘2+2’ Meeting in Seoul, I will travel to Japan to meet with Defense Minister Onodera on Friday 5 July.
It will be my second visit to Japan as Minister for Defence and my eighth visit as an Australian Government Minister.
This will be the first visit by an Australian Cabinet Minister since the Abe Government assumed office in December 2012.
Last year marked the 50th Anniversary of the modern bilateral Defence relationship between Australia and Japan. Our bilateral strategic and security partnership has grown in strength in recent years including practical cooperation.
While in Tokyo, I look forward to further discussions with Minister Onodera ensuring that both countries strengthen our Defence and security cooperation and continue to work closely together to promote regional stability, peace and prosperity.
Our strategic and practical cooperation has also strengthened following recent bilateral exercises and trilateral exercises with the United States.
Minister Smith’s Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999