Yesterday I visited our military and civilian personnel stationed in Afghanistan for Australia Day. I thanked them for their outstanding service to our contribution to peace and security efforts for the people of Afghanistan.
I also met with representatives of the newly formed Afghan government in Kabul to reiterate Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan as the government enters a transition phase to take responsibility for security across the country.
Approximately 400 Australians are currently serving as part of the NATO-led Resolute Support mission which came into effect on 1 January 2015. Australia and Afghanistan enjoy a close partnership and we have provided over $1 billion in development assistance to Afghanistan since 2001.
In my meetings with President Ghani and Chief Executive Officer Abdullah I congratulated them on the successful formation of a national unity government and reaffirmed Australia’s continuing support to Afghanistan to build on the gains made since 2001.
I also hosted a roundtable on women’s empowerment in Afghanistan where we discussed key barriers as well as the factors that will enhance the economic and social empowerment and the elimination of violence against women.
Today I will visit the United Arab Emirates to meet with government and private sector representatives. The UAE is a valued partner for Australia, with strong and growing trade, investment and people-to-people links.
In Abu Dhabi, I will meet with the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al‑Nahyan and host a roundtable with Australian businesses. Over 350 Australian businesses are operating in the UAE, working in sectors including finance, infrastructure, tourism, education and information technology.
I will also meet the CEO of Etihad Airways to enhance our links. Aviation is a major bridge in our bilateral relationship, with 266 flights per week between the four airlines from our two countries.
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