Australia to step up formal partnership with NATO at summit

by Reuters
Tuesday, 2 September 2014 05:51 GMT

(Adds view on air strikes, Afghanistan)

SYDNEY, Sept 2 (Reuters) - Australia is set to step up its partnership with NATO, its foreign minister said on Tuesday, as the country pursues a bigger role in global crises from Iraq and Syria to Ukraine.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who is due to host Russian President Vladimir Putin and other world leaders at a G20 summit in November, has used a number of recent speeches to signal a more muscular approach to foreign policy.

Although Australia is not a NATO member, its troops fought alongside the coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan, which Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has called the basis for an expanded partnership in current and future conflicts.

"Tomorrow the defence minister and I will travel to Wales to attend the NATO summit and I can confirm that Australia will be accepting a formal invitation to become what is called an enhanced partner," Bishop told parliament.

Membership in the Enhanced Partnership Program is designed to give non-member states earlier access to the planning of military operations and a presence in NATO's governing bodies.

Australia on Monday unveiled fresh sanctions against Russia over what Abbott called its "bullying" of neighbouring Ukraine, where the Kremlin is accused of backing pro-Russian insurgent groups battling the government in Kiev.

Abbott has struck perhaps the toughest line of any Western leader against the rebels in Ukraine, accused by Western countries and intelligence agencies of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in July, killing all 298 passengers and crew, including 28 Australians.

Australia has also joined a multinational relief effort, dropping military equipment and aid to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State militants in northern Iraq.

Abbott has not ruled out participating in air strikes in Iraq or Syria.

The NATO summit on Thursday and Friday will mark the end of 13 years of combat in Afghanistan by U.S. and other foreign troops. (Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Latest News
Comments Close
Australia to step up formal partnership with NATO at summit

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

comments powered by Disqus