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Pakistan inks defense MOU with Australia

June 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 8 (UPI) -- Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding for bilateral cooperation with the Australian ministry of defense, the government announced Tuesday.

Australian Defense Minister John Faulkner arrived Monday in Pakistan, marking the first visit by an Australian defense minister in more than a decade.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari during his meetings in Istanbul called for stronger defense ties between the two countries, Pakistani newspaper The News International reports Tuesday.

The memorandum of understanding calls for interaction between the armed forces of both countries and doubles the Australian training commitments for the Pakistani military.

Zardari said the deal would contribute to his promise to end extremism in the country at any cost.

Pakistan is struggling with a Taliban insurgency and a variety of militant groups affiliated with al-Qaida.

"Australia stands by Pakistan in this fight," said Faulkner in a statement Tuesday. "We will continue to work with Pakistan to tailor our cooperation to best achieve positive results and to strengthen our long-term partnership."

The Australian defense ministry said expanded defense cooperation includes military training and equipment.

"Australia wishes to build an enduring relationship with Pakistan that is sustainable in the long term and mutually beneficial for both countries," Faulkner added.

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