Marise Payne travelled to Palau over the weekend to meet with president Surangel Whipps Jr and formally open a new Australian embassy.
I joined Australian Ambassador Richelle Turner & President Whipps Jr to formally open the Australian Embassy in Koror & further strengthen our relationship. This event highlights the importance #Australia places on deepening our engagement with #Palau and our Pacific family. 🇦🇺🇵🇼 pic.twitter.com/n3YryR30fF
— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) December 5, 2021
Australia’s minister for foreign affairs and women confirmed she will be seeking to advance a strong and growing relationship with Palau and discuss a wide-ranging partnership and the Pacific Step-up program.
“Under the Pacific Step-up, we are working more closely with Palau and other Pacific partners to address regional challenges, including the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, maritime security, and climate change,” Payne said in a statement.
“I will also formally open Australia’s Embassy in Palau, in a further demonstration of Australia’s expanding diplomatic presence in the Pacific.”
Payne said she hoped to also deepen cooperation under Australia’s Pacific Maritime Security Program, pointing to shared interests in protecting oceans in the region. In the spirit of an open, resilient and inclusive Indo-Pacific region, the foreign minister said Australia handed over a new Guardian-class Patrol Boat to Palau last year.
“My visit builds upon my recent in-person visits to partners in the Indo-Pacific region and substantive virtual engagements throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” the minister said.
“I will participate in a ceremony to break the ground for a landing station for the island’s second internet cable, jointly funded by Australia, Palau, Japan, and the United States, which will strengthen vital digital connectivity in the region and support economic growth and improved service delivery.”
Payne will meet with officials vice president and justice minister Uduch Sengebau Senior and minister of state Gustav Aitaro. The agenda of her trip will also include meeting women leaders to discuss the Pacific Women Lead program and other opportunities for promoting women’s empowerment in Palau.