SAMOA, AUSTRALIA RENEW DEFENSE COOPERATION

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Pact provides maritime surveillance support

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, April 21, 2009)—Samoa and Australia have reaffirmed 21 years of mutual collaboration and support.

They have done this through the Defence Cooperation Programme with the signing of a revised Memorandum of Understanding.

Group Captain Peter Bennett, the Australian defence attaché to Samoa, along with Captain Norman Banks and Mrs Elaine Olsen from the International Policy Division of the Department of Defence in Canberra arrived in Samoa during the weekend to participate in the annual Australian/ Samoan Defence Cooperation talks.

One of their first commitments was to join with the Australian High Commissioner, Matt Anderson to meet with the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Aiono Mose Pouvi Sua.

Yesterday, a revised Memorandum of Understanding was signed.

The idea was to reaffirm the bilateral commitments between the two countries.

The last time a similar Defence document was signed was in 1988, just before the Police Patrol Boat Nafanua was gifted to Samoa by the Australian government.

The updated Memorandum covers a range of Australian Defence related activities in Samoa. It includes:

The Maritime Surveillance Adviser to Samoa, Commander Tony Powell said that it remains important for Samoa to maintain her sovereignty of her Economic Zones and to assist her neighbours in doing the same.

One aspect of this is the Nafanua patrolling and coordinating with other ships and aircraft in the region.

"In the past month, Nafanua has conducted surveillance patrols against illegal fishing with New Zealand surveillance P3 aircraft, coordinated the search for the overdue fishing vessel KATHRYN J, again with New Zealand P3’s and the local fishing fleet, and represented the Samoan Government at the American Samoan Flag Day celebrations" Commander Powell said.

"With this renewed Australian commitment, Samoa’s capability to maintain her sovereignty can be expected to continue for many years to come."

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