Between 13 to 15 July, I visited Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Arab Emirates to meet with Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and advance our defence engagement with key regional leaders.
It was a privilege to spend time with Australian troops deployed under Operation HIGHROAD in Afghanistan, and to thank them for their service.
Australia is proud of our contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, which supports the Afghan Government in its fight against insurgent and terrorist groups as it seeks progress towards peace and reconciliation.
I also met with Mr Assadullah Khalid, acting Afghan Minister for Defence and Commander of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, General Austin Scott Miller from the United States.
I underscored Australia’s contribution to Afghanistan’s long-term security and development, and reaffirmed Australia’s support for Afghanistan’s peace process and for the planned 28 September Presidential elections.
In Iraq, I met with Major General Najah Hasan Ali Al-Shammari, Iraqi Minister for Defence and Mohammad Al-Habousi, Speaker of the Council of Representatives, to discuss Australia’s long-standing efforts to support Iraq, in defeating Daesh and assisting with Iraq’s recovery.
I also met with deployed ADF personnel at the combined Australia-New Zealand Task Group Taji and Special Operations Task Group 632, and commended them for their significant efforts, including the training of more than 44,000 members of the Iraqi Security Forces by Task Group Taji.
In the United Arab Emirates, I met with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Minister of State for Defence, His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, and Chief of Staff of UAE Armed Forces His Excellency Hamad Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi to reaffirm our two countries’ friendship.
Australia and the United Arab Emirates share common interests and cooperate on security challenges, including our commitment to international efforts to counter Daesh.