Tue, 05 Jul 2022

Suva [Fiji], May 28 (ANI): Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong paid a two-day visit to Fiji amid the ongoing quest among western countries, including Australia, to bring the strategically located island nation into their sphere of influence.

Wong, who arrived in Fiji on Thursday afternoon, met with Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretary-General Henry Puna.

"Our Pacific family is strongest when we work together. Today I met with @FijiPM to reinforce Australia's commitment to the Vuvale Partnership. Regional unity has never been more important, as we face unprecedented challenges including COVID, climate change and strategic contest," Wong tweeted.

The newly appointed Australian FM was in Fiji to work with its Pacific partners to achieve goals - including tackling climate change, pandemic recovery, economic development and regional security.

This visit comes at a time when China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on an eight-country tour in the South Pacific.

Experts believe that China is seeking a regional agreement with Pacific island nations that would expand its role in policing, maritime cooperation, and cybersecurity and also plans to offer scholarships for over 2,000 workers and young diplomats.

Wang Yi, who is on a 10-day visit to the pacific island countries, is scheduled to meet with regional leaders in Fiji.

Prior to his visit, Beijing sent the drafts of the deal to 10 Pacific countries, The New York Times reported.

Covering a range of issues, the documents appear to be a joint communique that Beijing wants the countries to adopt. They offer a detailed outline of how Beijing seeks to win friends and gain greater access to the island chains that have long played a strategic role in Asia's geopolitical contests.

The visit and the agreement both seem aimed to counter American efforts to strengthen alliances in Asia. (ANI)

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