JOURNALIST: Foreign Minister, we thank you for your time and I guess you never know what’s going to happen when you answer the phone?
JULIE BISHOP: Good morning Ross and John. No, this is a shocking incident in Great Britain today, in London, and I am here in Washington DC at a meeting of foreign ministers to discuss the campaign against ISIS, and the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was here at the meeting. Of course, when he took the call about the incident in London, so you never know when these events are going to occur and it’s a very tragic incident and our thoughts and condolences are with the British people and the British Government.
JOURNALIST: Minister, is this being treated as a confirmed terrorist attack or just a lone wolf individual?
JULIE BISHOP: My understanding is that the British authorities are treating it as a terrorist incident unless the investigation shows otherwise. It has all the hallmarks of one of the ISIS-inspired attacks but it’s too early to say with absolute certainty what was the motive behind it or why this occurred.
JOURNALIST: I was reading during the week, I think probably in the New York Times, about the imminent demise of ISIS I think in Mosul, I may well have got that –
JULIE BISHOP: That’s right.
JOURNALIST: I may well have got that wrong. Do you see a world in which in the near term ISIS is defeated?
JULIE BISHOP: Well that’s what we’re doing here in Washington, to ensure that the objectives of the Coalition are achieved and that is to defeat ISIS and to take back the territory that it claimed in Iraq and Syria, but also to prevent it from inspiring terrorist attacks elsewhere in the world, that is countering this narrative, this ideology, its presence on social media, to prevent people being seduced into supporting it and carrying out the sort of attacks that we saw in London this morning. So the 68 countries that are represented at this Coalition meeting are determined to defeat ISIS. There are 22 countries that are amongst the most significant contributors, and Australia is also in that group because we have about 1000 military personnel in theatre carrying out air strikes over Syria and involved in training and supporting and advising the Iraqi security forces so that they can retake Mosul, the city of Mosul, and that’s what’s happening now. So you would’ve no doubt read about the attempts to retake Mosul. They’re making progress in that regard, but this is a very long fight against terrorism, this could take years.
JOURNALIST: Great to see. Time for one last question. I know that the job of a terrorist is to terrorise and this sort of attack in London does terrorise, but in terms of a strategy, running over two people and stabbing a police officer in London is hardly a winning strategy, is it?
JULIE BISHOP: It is meant to unsettle people, to strike fear into their hearts, prevent them going about their daily business. London is a free and open city, many people from all around the world work there, visit there, and so it’s designed to scare people into not continuing their usual business, their daily lives. It won’t work because Britain is a resolute country, determined people. They have faced some terrible events over the history of that country, that city and it will just make them more resolute and more determined. But it means that we must do all we can in Australia to provide our law enforcement and security and intelligence agencies with the resources they need and the laws they need to keep Australians as safe as possible.
JOURNALIST: Good on you and we’re very grateful for your time. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, currently in Washington DC.
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