Australia signs ‘status of forces’ agreement with UK ahead of annual AUKMIN talks

Australia’s defence ties with the United Kingdom have been officially inked after Richard Marles and his counterpart launched an “extraordinary” agreement.

The Defence Minister signed off on a “status of forces agreement” with his UK counterpart Grant Shapps in Canberra on Thursday.

It’s an agreement the UK has only ever enacted with NATO partners and will make it easier for defence forces to operate in each other’s countries.

Mr Marles said the move was just formalising the agreement that so many defence ministers on both sides had for many years.

“It means that the agreement that we have signed today is very practical, but it is also very timely,” Mr Marles said.

“It does reflect a relationship which has become much more strategic, a relationship which has a much bigger national security dimension.

“To that end, the UK has a much greater presence in the Indo-Pacific than we have seen in a very long time.”

Mr Shapps said it was “extraordinary” Australia and the UK didn’t already have such a defence cooperation treaty in place, insisting both countries could not be more close.

“We do already cooperate very significantly on defence matters, it should be said. So we’ll always be looking to deepen that cooperation between our countries,” he said.

“Our view and world outlook is very, very similar. Our understanding of the world order is almost identical and the need to act together is never more pressing than it is today.”

Mr Marles also confirmed Australia will participate in a drone coalition in support of Ukraine, led by the UK and Latvia.

“This is a really important opportunity for us to continue making our contribution to the effort to have Ukraine stay the course and be able to resolve this conflict on its terms.” he said.

Leave a Comment