This week I will travel to London to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and then continue onto Europe to meet with leaders in Germany, Belgium and France.
This trip comes at a crucial time. Chemical weapons attacks in Syria and on the streets of England have sparked a strong and united response from Australia and our allies.
Alongside Prime Minister Theresa May, I will explore ways to further strengthen our cooperation on intelligence and security.
We will discuss ongoing threats from terrorism, foreign interference and malicious cyber actors, as well as uncertainty in the Korean Peninsula.
At CHOGM, I look forward to discussing how the Commonwealth can contribute to a fairer, more sustainable, secure and prosperous future. We will reinforce the global rules-based order and strengthen the resilience of our near neighbours in the Pacific.
I will then travel to Berlin to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and key members of the German business community where I will advocate the strategic and economic benefits of an Australia – EU free trade agreement.
I believe in free trade because free trade creates jobs. That is the message I will be taking to Europe, as we fight for more opportunities for Australian exporters.
The economic and security relationship between Germany and Australia is strong – particularly in our defence industries. Just last month, I announced a $5.2 billion contract with German firm Rheinmetall to manufacture combat reconnaissance vehicles for the Australian Defence Force. This contract is an important part of Australia’s defence modernisation program.
In Brussels, I look forward to meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to discuss our security and trade relationships, including the Australia – EU free trade agreement, and Australia’s contribution to NATO operations in Afghanistan.
My visit will conclude in Villers-Bretonneux, where French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe and I will officially open the Sir John Monash Centre, a new museum honouring those Australians who served on the Western Front during the First World War. While in Villers-Bretonneux, I will also attend the Anzac Day dawn service commemorating one hundred years since Australian units bravely led a counter attack to successfully defend the village.