Australian minister visits New Zealand on Pacific trip

Australia’s new foreign minister made New Zealand the first leg of her third Pacific trip in a month on Thursday as Canberra steps up efforts to counter China’s growing influence in the region.

Foreign Secretary Penny Wong is promoting her administration’s stronger ambition to cut greenhouse gas emissions as evidence that Australia shares the South Pacific’s top security concern: climate change.

Australia formally pledged on Thursday to cut its emissions by 43% by the end of the decade. The previous government, which lost power in elections last month, pledged to cut emissions by just 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

“Many countries in the region have expressed concern about Australia’s past stance on climate,” Wong said at a joint press conference with his New Zealand counterpart, Nanaia Mahuta, in the New Zealand capital. , Wellington.

“We have some catching up to do and we want to demonstrate that we are delivering… stronger and more ambitious commitments on climate because we actually think it matters and more resources and more energy,” Wong added.

Mahuta said she agreed with Wong that “the Pacific is a contested space.”

“So in working together, it will be important to ensure that we work alongside the Pacific in setting their priorities, but also in how we partner with the Pacific on their bigger issues like climate change, like economic resilience,” Mahuta said. said.

On Friday, Wong became the first Australian minister to visit the Solomon Islands since his government signed a security pact with China that many believe could lead to the establishment of a Chinese naval base less than 2,000 kilometers away. (1,200 miles) off the northeast coast of Australia.

Wong described his talks with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare as “constructive” and “wide-ranging”.

“Australia’s view remains that the Pacific family should be responsible for our security and the Pacific family is more than capable of providing that security,” Wong told reporters in the capital, Honiara.

“I welcomed Prime Minister Sogavare’s assurances that there will be no military base or persistent military presence here in the Solomon Islands, and I welcome his assurance that Australia will remain Solomon Islands’ choice and the first development partner of choice,” she added.

Sogavare’s office did not immediately respond to the AP’s request for comment.

Australian police have been present in the capital, Honiara, to keep the peace since riots in November last year.

Australia on Thursday announced drought aid for Kiribati, which was one of eight countries visited by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a recent South Pacific influencer tour.

Australia will provide an initial A$675,000 ($473,000) to support the installation of 100 solar distillation units to provide clean water after the Kiribati government declared a state of disaster on Wednesday .

Wong visited Samoa and Tonga around the same time as Wang’s tour. She flew to Tokyo hours after being sworn in May 23 for a security summit attended by leaders from the United States, Japan, India and Australia.

Comments are closed.