Summit brings defence talks

Sound Telegraph

Britain's Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond visited HMAS Stirling last Thursday as part of his visit to Perth for the annual Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial summit.

Joined by Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Brand MHR Gary Gray, Mr Hammond inspected upgrades to HMAS Perth.

HMAS Perth, a 3750-tonne Anzac-class frigate, is the first Australian ship to undergo an anti-ship missile defence upgrade.

The ship’s commanding officer, Captain Lee Goddard, gave Mr Hammond a tour of the vessel to allow the minister the chance inspect its radar and interception capabilities.

On Friday, Mr Hammond and Mr Smith held talks with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, as part of the fifth AUKMIN summit.

Mr Smith said discussions centred on the challenges both regions faced with foreign policy delivery in the face of increased resource constraints.

“We agreed to give fresh impetus to efforts to identify the scope for increased defence procurement cooperation,” he said. “In particular, we called for an early joint report on the possibilities for mutually beneficial collaboration on Australia’s future frigate and the UK’s global combat ship.

“We will also examine the possibility of collaboration in respect of Australia’s submarine capability.”

Mr Gray said it was “terrific” to have Australia and the UK’s defence ministers visit Garden Island and discuss strategic issues affecting both countries.

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