EU, Australia open cooperation talks

EU, Australia open cooperation talks

Australia and the European Union have opened talks on a new agreement to forge closer cooperation in security, development aid and climate change.

The negotiations get under on Monday in Canberra at the Australia-EU Ministerial Consultations summit and will continue in the coming months, aimed at reaching a conclusion in 2012.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said the talks mark a significant milestone in the Australia-EU relationship.

“It opens a new phase of closer cooperation between Australia and the EU that better accommodates our broad interests and priorities,” Mr Rudd said.

Baroness Catherine Ashton, representing the EU, said the agreement would recognise the relationship’s importance and provide a platform to increase collaboration in foreign affairs and security, development assistance, climate change, research, science and education.

“The agreement would give political expression to our commitment to build a stronger, forward-looking partnership,” High Representative Ashton said in Canberra.

Mr Rudd and Baroness Ashton will also hold separate talks on a crisis management agreement to deal with international events, such as the recent turmoil in Libya and Egypt.

In the meantime, Mr Rudd and Baroness Ashton have agreed on two Australia-EU delegated aid projects in South Sudan and Fiji.

Australia is the first non-European donor with which the EU has established delegated aid cooperation arrangements.

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