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Defence on the agenda as Australia, UK governments meet

Politics

Australia and the UK’s defence and foreign affairs ministers are meeting in Sydney for AUKMIN talks aimed at finding better ways to cooperate.

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The session on Friday is the first 2+2 ministerial discussion in the country since the start of the pandemic.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton both met with their British counterparts separately on Thursday.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss also visited the prime minister at Kirribilli House on Thursday night.

The meeting comes amid heightened tensions with Russia and China, and a day after Australia and the UK signed a new cyber agreement.

Senator Payne said the agreement would impose greater costs on “malign actors who would undermine the region’s prosperity and security for their own ends”.

“An open, safe and secure cyberspace, and technologies that work for people, not against them, is key to our combined future,” she said.

Dutton said discussions will span ways to bolster cooperation in defence capability, cyber security and critical technology.

“Both Australia and the UK get regular attacks from Russia and China and Iran so there is a lot of scope for discussion about how we can … stop that activity and fight back against it,” he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

“(The UK) are an important partner for us as a smaller country with only 25 million people. If we are going to deter countries from aggressive behaviour then we are best to do that with strong friends and allies.”

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