The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
FA183 / 18 December 2001

Diplomatic Appointment: Ambassador to Russia

I have today announced the appointment of Mr Leslie Rowe as Australian Ambassador to the Russian Federation.  Mr Rowe will replace Ms Ruth Pearce, who has been Ambassador since February 1999.  He is expected to take up his position in April 2002.

Russia's unique size, geostrategic location and vast economic potential ensures that it plays a significant role in international affairs.  Recent global developments and major changes within Russia itself have created a climate in which our relations are expanding and diversifying.  We have strengthened our dialogue bilaterally through annual political and military talks on global and regional security issues and through multilateral contacts in APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum.  We will continue to seek opportunities to work closely with Russia on a range of multilateral issues including trade liberalisation, cooperation on counter-terrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Australia strongly supports Russia's deeper integration into the international institutions, especially the WTO.

Australia's trade with Russia is improving steadily after a fall over the course of the 1990s. Positive developments in the Russian economy suggest further growth in bilateral trade.  Australian merchandise exports to Russia have increased to A$267 million in the calendar year 2000 while services exports reached nearly A$100 million.  In May this year, Australia and Russia signed an Agreement on Space Cooperation which has the potential to enhance bilateral cooperation in the areas of high technology .

Mr Rowe is a senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and is currently First Assistant Secretary, Public Diplomacy, Consular and Passports Division.  He has served as Minister and Deputy Head of Mission in Indonesia (1998-01), Consul-General in New Caledonia (1992-95), First Secretary and Counsellor at the Australian Mission to the United Nations in New York (1982-86), First Secretary and Chargé d'Affaires in Lebanon (1978-80), First Secretary in Portugal (1977-78) and Third Secretary in Ghana (1971-73).

In Canberra Mr Rowe has served as Assistant Secretary, Executive Branch (1995-98); Assistant Secretary, Cultural Relations Branch (1990-92); Senior Private Secretary to the Foreign Minister (1987-88); and Director Policy Coordination Section (1986-87).

Educated at Melbourne High School and the University of Melbourne, Mr Rowe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with honours and a Diploma of Education


Media inquiries: Nicole Guihot (Ministerial) 02 62777 500 / Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 2534

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