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Wong to visit Fiji to bolster Pacific ties

New Foreign Minister Penny Wong will fly out to Fiji to help solidify the new government’s relationship with Australia’s Pacific neighbour.

A day after she landed back in Australia following a visit to Tokyo for the Quad leaders’ summit, Senator Wong will meet with Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, along with the country’s foreign minister and senior leaders.

Senator Wong said the visit would help to strengthen the relationship between Australia and Fiji, as well as the broader region.

“The visit, in my first week as foreign minister, demonstrates the importance we place on our relationship with Fiji and on our Pacific engagement,” she said in a statement.

“Australia will listen to our Pacific partners as we work together to face our shared challenges and achieve our shared goals.”

Climate change, pandemic recovery, economic development along with regional security are expected to be high on the agenda during the talks with Fiji’s prime minister.

The visit will come amid heightened tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, following China and the Solomon Islands signing a new security pact.

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi will also visit the Solomon Islands this week, along with Fiji, as part of a rapid tour of the Pacific region.

Senator Wong will also use the visit to Fiji to meet Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general Henry Puna.

She will make a speech at the Forum Secretariat on the new commitments Australia would make to strengthen the Pacific family.

“These commitments include taking real action on climate change at home and with our region, as well as increased development assistance and security cooperation, and reforming and expanding our Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme,” she said.

“I look forward to sharing our ideas on how we seek to bring together Australia’s defence, strategic, diplomatic and economic capabilities to support our region’s priorities.”

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