Wong rebuts claims of planned visit

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Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong shares a light moments with selected workers for the Pacific Labour scheme in Suva on Friday, May 27, 2022. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

Newly-appointed Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong rejected claims that her Fiji visit, which almost coincided with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s trip to the region, was planned.

Responding to media queries at a news conference yesterday, she said Mr Wang’s visit did not prompt her decision to visit Fiji.

“No, I was very keen to come to the Pacific as soon as I became foreign minister,” Ms Wong said.

When asked if her Fiji visit was always the plan and Australia was not being reactive to the Chinese Foreign Minister coming, Ms Wong said that was not so.

“We did a lot of work on Pacific policy and we thought when we did it, we’d have an announcement.

“But you know, it would probably get picked up here and then the Pacific press, but it became quite a big part of our foreign policy during the election.

“We understand how important this is and we understand that Australia has more to do and we wanted to put out there the things that we wanted to do.

“And one of the things I wanted to do was have a Pacific trip as my first trip, and Fiji is a very important partner, you know, we have a Vuvale Partnership and you’re the chair of the PIF (Pacific Islands Forum) so we thought it was appropriate.”

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