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US, Australia Signs Memorandum on Missile Defense System

The United States and Australia have signed a memorandum on developing a missile defense system, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said at a joint press conference with his Australian counterpart Robert Hill on Wednesday.


"Today we are moving ahead with several new initiatives. We have signed a memorandum of understanding, pledging to work together on developing a system to defend our respective countries from missile attacks," Rumsfeld said.


"As part of the ongoing transformation of our armed forces, we are also issuing a joint statement on interoperability and on the cooperative development of a joint combined training capability," Rumsfeld said.


"By creating a training environment in Australia to test and evaluate our forces in a wide range of scenarios, our countries should be better able to integrate our military capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century," Rumsfeld said.


For his part, Hill said it was a "long-term investment" in relation to ballistic missiles.


"New technologies have made it possible the ability to defend against incoming ballistic missiles, whether it is defending troops on the ground or large areas. And we think it is important that Australia invest in those new technologies, " Hill said.

"We will be working with the United States to identify specific projects that we can work together in order that we can make a contribution and that we can fully gain from these new technologies," Hill said.


Hill stressed that the relationship with the United States was "critically important" to Australia.


Australia has been a close US ally on the war against terrorism.

(Xinhua News Agency July 8, 2004)

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