Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister David Johnston will leave for Wales today to attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit on 4-5 September.  The Summit comes as NATO draws down from its longest ever mission – the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.

Support for the Afghan government in the years ahead will be a key discussion with NATO members and ISAF partners. Australia remains committed to supporting international efforts in Afghanistan through continued security and development assistance. 

Australia will contribute $300 million over the three years, 2015-17, towards the sustainment of Afghanistan’s security forces, a key underpinning of Afghanistan’s ongoing stability and security. The Australian Government is also continuing to provide significant development assistance to Afghanistan, focused on economic growth, governance, the rights of women and girls, and humanitarian relief.

Australia will accept a formal invitation to become an Enhanced Partner at the NATO Summit – a rare honour for our nation and our defence forces – and recognition of the constructive role Australia has played in Afghanistan in particular.

At the Summit, Australia will discuss with member nations of NATO, future relations with Russia and the current situation in Ukraine. NATO played an important role in verifying Russia's role in the violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Summit will provide an opportunity to discuss future steps with our international partners, should Russia persist in its use of force and interference in eastern Ukraine.

The conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the presence of foreign fighters in the Middle East will also be discussed.

NATO is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe, committed to protecting the security of member countries. Leaders and senior ministers from around 60 countries, including non-NATO parties to ISAF and representatives of the Afghan government, are expected to attend the Summit.

The relationship between Australia and NATO has grown stronger in recent years, reflecting the close cooperation between Australia and NATO in Afghanistan, as well as the values and interests shared by both in seeking a stable international order and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

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