Australia opens embassy in Marshall Islands to gain foothold in Pacific

Sydney, Australia, Oct 12 (EFE).- Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Wednesday she would officially open an embassy in the Marshall Islands this week, in a new tour of the Pacific to strengthen relations with the island countries of this strategic region and as a counterweight to China.

“This will be my eighth visit to the Pacific as foreign minister and first ministerial visit to the Republic of the Marshall Islands since 2018, demonstrating the priority of the new Australian government in our region,” the foreign minister said in a statement, without specifying dates.

Wong, who began her diplomatic outpost in the Pacific shortly after the Anthony Albanese-led Labor Party won the election in May, will attend the opening of the Australian Embassy in Majuro, which began operating in 2021.

He will also be present at the first broadcast of the programs of the Australian public channel ABC in the Marshall Islands, after a six-year news break, and will meet with the president, David Kabua, and counterpart Kitlang Kabua, to address the climate crisis and security, among other issues.

Wong will also travel to Nauru, where Australia managed detention centers for undocumented immigrants for years, to talk with the country’s President Russ Kun about “shared priorities” such as resilience to the climate crisis, investment and post-pandemic recovery, among other topics.

The new Australian government has redoubled contacts with the Pacific region, forgotten by the previous executive and which gained prominence when China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April.

This pact, which included the dispatch of Chinese security forces at Honiara’s request, stoked fears in Australia, the United States and other Western nations about the danger that the region could be destabilized by the growing influence of Beijing. EFE


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