That 11 nation-- thus far-- initiative is looking at what nations can do to strengthen the interdiction of trade and prohibited weapons and materials. Australia has already been a leader in that ongoing discussion, and next month will play host to the first naval exercise aimed at developing such capabilities.
Now, when you think about it, ladies and gentlemen, there’s a tremendous irony in this. Think of it. Australian and American forces will be training together in the Coral Sea, exploring the horizon line of new possibilities for our partnership, with the participation of Japan, with the participation of Italy, and with the participation of Germany as well. All over a great reef of memory, made of the skeletal hulls of ships and planes lost in the Second World War. And at the same time, Australian and South Pacific forces will be in the Solomon Islands, helping to keep peace in the places where some of that war’s most fierce battles once raged.
Indeed, in just two days’ time we’re going to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II. But that terrible, destructive battle was also the beginning of a special relationship between our two nations. At a time when much of the Australian military was in the Middle East and in Europe, defending allied interests, US forces came here to defend Australia. We joined together then to protect our national security, but also to protect regional stability and to build a global system based on peace and prosperity.
We join together today for much the same purpose. I believe there will be a great continuity in our cause, forged out of the bones of our grandfathers and the blood of our children as we move forward into this millennium. Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you very, very much.
QUESTION AND ANSWER PERIOD
CHAIR: Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not my task to thank Mr Armitage for that splendid address, that will be done by Richard Fisher a little later. It’s my role to moderate questions. We're very happy to take questions from the floor, perhaps preferably from members of the Asian Society but also from the media. And I’d like those to who do ask questions to state their name and the organization from which they come. I’d just like to make one comment, Richard. You made a quotation about me and it was very generous of you what you said, but I think that the housemaster who said I had a self-destructive instinct 60 years ago, I think at my age I’m more interested in self-preservation. Anyway, be that as it may, we’ll now take some questions from the floor before Richard Fisher formally thanks you.