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Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
9 March 2001
Visit to the United Kingdom, United States and Latin America
I will visit the United Kingdom, the United States and Latin America from 19-30 March.
In London on 19-20 March, I will attend the 15th Meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). The group of eight Commonwealth Foreign Ministers and representatives will consider how the Commonwealth should respond to developments in democracy and human rights in member countries of concern to CMAG, including Fiji, the Gambia, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and the Solomon Islands.
In Washington on 21-22 March, I will meet with senior members of the new Bush Administration's foreign, security and trade policy team including Secretary of State Colin Powell and United States Trade Representative Robert Zoellick. The Bush Administration has firmly reiterated the United States' strong commitment to long-term strategic engagement in our region. This year marks an important milestone in the Australia-US alliance relationship - the 50th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty. My discussions will focus on a range of bilateral and regional topics, particularly our plans to celebrate the ANZUS anniversary, the outlook in North and South East Asia and broader global security and disarmament issues. I will also meet senior members of the new 107th US Congress and highlight Australia's strong credentials as a regional and global player.
Following my discussions in Washington, I will make my first visit to Latin America as Foreign Minister - in Brazil from 23-25 March, Argentina from 26-27 March and Chile from 28-30 March. These are three of the largest countries in Latin America and countries with whom Australia has warm relations and growing trade and investment links. One of my objectives will be to highlight the many opportunities for strengthened commercial ties. I will also exchange views on developments in our respective regions and discuss a range of multilateral issues including the prospects for the launch of a new WTO Round later this year. Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile are all members of the Cairns Group, an international coalition which promotes agricultural trade liberalisation.
In Brasilia I will meet the Foreign and Defence Ministers and President Cardoso. I will also receive the keys to our new Australian Embassy building in Brasilia and open the new Honorary Consulate-General in Rio de Janeiro. In Buenos Aires I will meet President De la Rua and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs, Economy and Agriculture and address the Argentine Council on International Relations.
In Santiago, I will meet President Lagos, the Foreign Minister, the Vice Foreign Minister and the Minister for the Economy. I will also attend the inaugural Ministerial meeting of the East Asia Latin America Forum (EALAF). This forum will bring together Ministers from both regions to address common issues and problems and to explore new avenues for cooperation.
Media inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 62777 500/
Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534/