Australian minister for foreign affairs Stephen Smith visit to Botswana

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Flag of Botswana
Flag of Botswana

Monday 25 January, I spent the day in Gaborone, the first visit to Botswana by an Australian Foreign Minister.

I met with my counterpart Foreign Minister Phandu Skelemani. This visit follows Mr Skelemani’s official visit to Canberra in June 2009.

I also met with President Lt General Seretse Khama Ian Khama.

During the day I met with several key Batswana Ministers, including Minister for Defence, Justice and Security, Minister Seretse; Minister for Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Minister Mokaila; and Minister for Agriculture, Minister De Graaf.

The Australian Government looks forward to the visit to Australia by President Khama in March this year.

President Khama’s visit will be a further demonstration of the excellent partnership between our two countries.

Australia and Botswana enjoy warm and substantive relations and I discussed further ways of boosting bilateral cooperation, including in areas such as education and fire management.

I advised President Khama and Minister Skelemani of further Australian assistance for Botswana.

Australia will commit $500,000 in fire management assistance to support training to Botswana provided by the NSW Rural Fire Service. This will extend the current fire management assistance program by two years.

Australia will also provide the AGWEST program a further $250,000 to build capacity in quarantine and plant bio-security in Botswana. This will extend the food security program by another two years also.

There are also about 500 students from Botswana studying in Australia, including 270 on scholarships from the Botswana Government.

This year Australia has increased the number of scholarships to Botswana to 10, focusing on HIV/AIDS, agriculture, natural resources and governance.

Botswana will also receive a short-term mining fellowship to study in Australia for the first time. The fellowship is designed to assist Botswana build capacity in the resources sector, which is so important to the local economy.

I also discussed the situation in Zimbabwe and possible ways in which Australia and Botswana might cooperate to deliver humanitarian and capacity-building assistance in Zimbabwe.

I also visited the headquarters of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)?the first Australian Foreign Minister to do so. Australia will continue to explore ways to enhance our relationship with regional organisations in Africa, like the African Union and SADC.

Source: Australian Government

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