News National Australia set to boost partnership with NATO

Australia set to boost partnership with NATO

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Australia is set to boost ties with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the world’s most powerful political and military grouping.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia will accept a formal invitation to become an enhanced partner when she and Defence Minister David Johnston attend the NATO leaders summit in Wales this week.

Ms Bishop says it is a rare honour for Australia and the Australian Defence Force.

Australia’s relationship with NATO strengthened substantially over the past decade due to participation in NATO’s longest mission, the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) mission in Afghanistan.

“Australia has proven itself time and again to be a reliable and capable partner,” she said.

NATO was founded in 1949 as a security grouping of the US, UK and European nations opposing the Soviet Union and its eastern bloc allies.

Although not a member, Australia’s engagement with NATO has grown steadily in recent years.

Ms Bishop says Australia will maintain autonomy in deciding the extent and character of involvement in future NATO-led operations.

The NATO summit will focus on Afghanistan and involvement there beyond the end of this year when the ISAF mission expires.

Also on the agenda will be Syria, Iraq and Russia’s behaviour in eastern Ukraine.

Ms Bishop said she discussed a range of security matters with US secretary of state John Kerry earlier on Tuesday.

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