Prime Minister Mark Brown will this week welcome Australian Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong on her first official visit to the Cook Islands.
This week’s visit follows a June visit by Prime Minister Brown to Australia to receive the Te Kukupa II Pacific Guardian Class vessel and meet with then newly elected Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. During the visit to Australia in June, Prime Minister Brown also met with Minister Wong as well as Australia’s Minister for Pacific and International Development Pat Conroy, and Minister for Climate Change Chris Bowen.
“I am delighted to be able to welcome Senator Wong to Rarotonga this week to advance discussions held in Australia in June and in the margins of the Pacific Islands Forum held in Suva in July,” said Prime Minister Brown.
“Senator Wong’s visit is the first Ministerial visit by the Australian Government since the opening of Australia’s High Commission in Rarotonga in December 2019. I will be looking to secure support for increased transport and communications links; access to the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific to avail critical funding to support our climate and disaster resilience efforts; greater opportunities for partnerships in sport, education and media; extension of our sustainable oceans and livelihoods partnerships; and fostering closer institutional linkages with Australia at bilateral and regional levels.”
Minister Wong’s visit follows earlier officials level talks held over the last year, most recently earlier this month, to reach consensus on the content of a strategic partnership agreement expected to be signed during this weeks’ visit.
The Cook Islands are expected to assume Chair responsibilities of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders (PIFL) group before the end of this year and will host the PIFL Meeting in 2023.
In addition to bilateral talks, Minister Wong will engage with representatives of business, civil society and community leaders during her one day visit.