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Australia, UK ministers affirm close ties

AAP logoAAP 10/09/2016

Australia and Britain have affirmed their close security relationship at annual top-level talks in London.

Defence Minister Marise Payne and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop attended the eighth Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations (AUKMIN), hosted by UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

AUKMIN is the principal forum for discussion of foreign policy, defence and strategic issues affecting Australia and the UK.

Ministers discussed issues including the global challenges of terrorism, how to defeat Islamic State and the humanitarian situation in Syria, security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and further defence co-operation.

They also discussed partnership opportunities following Britain's decision to quit the European Union.

Mr Fallon said Britain and Australia had a rich history of close military partnership.

"Our defence alliance is as strong as ever. From vital intelligence sharing to the fight against Daesh, we're working together to keep our people safe," he told reporters.

In other meetings in London, Australian ministers talked trade, although Trade Minister Steve Ciobo played down prospects of a speedy free trade deal.

He said Australia's historical relationship with the UK as ''a relationship of yesteryear" and formal negotiation of a trade agreement could not begin until the UK had finally left the EU.

Mr Johnson said he believed an outline agreement could be reached ahead of Britain's exit from the EU.

"I'm very confident that we will be able to at least sketch out, pencil in, the essentials of a very progressive deal that will be good for Australia, good for the UK, good for Europe and good for the world," he said.

Britain's impending departure could result in easing of restrictions on young Australians seeking working holiday visas. The same applies for Britons visiting Australia.

Ms Bishop said she had positive discussions with UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

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