18 November 1998

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador To Russia

I have today announced the appointment of Ms Ruth Pearce as Australian Ambassador to the Russian Federation, with non-resident accreditations to Georgia, Ukraine and the Republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Belarus.

Ms Pearce will replace Mr Geoffrey Bentley, who has been Ambassador since November 1994.

We are all aware of the tremendous changes which have taken place in Russia in recent years. Russia today faces formidable challenges in addressing its difficult economic circumstances. Nevertheless, 1 hope the Russian Government will persist with market-oriented economic reforms.

Australia enjoys friendly relations with the Russian Federation. We look to strengthening those relations further. I was pleased to be able to announce in July with then Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov the establishment of an annual bilateral political and military talks on Asia-Pacific security issues. Australia will continue to seek opportunities to work closely with Russia on a range of multilateral issues including trade, security and cooperation in the United Nations. We also look forward to working closely with Russia in APEC in furthering the objectives of trade liberalisation and trade expansion. We recognise that this is a difficult period economically for Russia, but we shall continue to look for opportunities to increase our economic and commercial links.

Ms Pearce has extensive overseas service, including postings in Bangladesh, Israel, the Australian Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva and as High Commissioner to Solomon Islands. Her experience in Canberra includes positions in the Multilateral Trade Division; Assistant Secretary, International Organisations Branch; First Assistant Secretary, Americas and Europe Division and since February 1997, as First Assistant Secretary, Corporate Management Division. Ms Pearce holds a LLB (Hons), BA from the University of Melbourne.

She is expected to take up her appointment in February 1999.

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