SYDNEY, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has struck a deal with Australia on rare earth minerals used in secretive advanced military technologies.
Departing Australia on Thursday after a two-day visit to Down Under, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg signed the agreement with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Foreign Minister Marise Payne in Sydney on Wednesday.
Speaking at a Lowy Institute forum, Stoltenberg said the relationship between Australia and NATO is particularly important for security as new global challenges are continuing to emerge.
While exact details of the rare earth arrangement were not revealed, Stoltenberg did confirm that he was optimistic about a peace deal in Afghanistan despite a huge bomb blast in the country one day prior to his arrival that killed at least 14 people and wounded 150 more.
"There are many problems in Afghanistan, we see continued violence, we see instability, many challenges, but we have also seen important progress," he said, adding that the country was no longer a safe haven for international terrorism, and had made progress in areas like education for women.
"We are closer to a peace deal now than ever before... What is important is that we preserve the gains we have made," Stoltenberg added.