Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd today announced that Dr Brendan Nelson will be Australia's first Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Dr Nelson is currently Australia's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, and the Australian Government's representative to NATO, which is based in Brussels. Dr Nelson's appointment as Ambassador represents a deepening of Australia's engagement with NATO.
NATO is an alliance of 28 countries from North America and Europe committed to protecting the security of member countries. It also provides a forum for members to consult on security issues of common concern and consider joint actions in addressing them. NATO-led forces are currently helping to bring stability to Afghanistan, and led the international effort to protect civilians in Libya. NATO plays a key role in global efforts to combat terrorism and ensure cyber security.
In Afghanistan, Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to the International Security Assistance Force and the 10th largest contributor overall. Australia is firmly committed to completing its role of supporting transition in Uruzgan Province. NATO will retain a leadership role in the international community's engagement on Afghanistan after the conclusion of the current ISAF mission in 2014.
Dr Nelson served in the Australian Parliament as the Member for Bradfield from March 1996, and was the Leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party from November 2007 until September 2008. He served as Minister for Defence, Minister for Education, Science and Training, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence.
A general practitioner by training and a graduate of Flinders University in South Australia, Dr Nelson was President of the Australian Medical Association from 1993 to 1995.
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