Suva, Fiji, 16 September 2023 - Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, the Honourable Mark Brown, met with Australia's Foreign Minister the Honourable Penny Wong on Thursday afternoon at the Cook Islands High Commission in Suva, ahead of the Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting (FFMM) which Prime Minister Brown chaired at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat yesterday.
Both Prime Minister Brown and Foreign Minister Wong were at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders Summit in Jakarta last week, where Prime Minister Brown on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), delivered remarks to the East Asia Summit and attended the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the PIF and ASEAN committing to strengthen co-operation in a range of areas.
On the bilateral front, the two discussed the increase in visitor arrivals from Australia supported by direct flights between Sydney and Rarotonga and maritime security and surveillance co-operation centered on Te Kukupa, which is the Cook Islands Guardian Class patrol boat and is currently in Australia for maintenance work.
Prime Minister Brown and Minister Wong also discussed several regional issues supporting ASEAN-Pacific Islands Forum co-operation, opportunities for bilateral and regional co-operation with Indonesia, finalisation of the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Implementation Plan, Forum Dialogue Partner and Engagement Mechanisms, Regional Security issues and the Cook Islands proposal for Pacific Partnerships for Prosperity (PPfP).
"Amongst the nine initiatives the Cook Islands is proposing as PPfP, Foreign Minister Wong confirmed Australia had already committed funding support towards preparatory work relating to the Pacific Resilience Facility and support to the Pacific Leaders' Gender Equality Declaration," said Prime Minister Brown.
In relation to two other PPfP proposed initiatives, Prime Minister Brown and Minister Wong also agreed that there was a need to support the operationalisation of the Consultative Committee provided by the Rarotonga Treaty to support and ensure a nuclear-free Pacific, and agreed that there was value in bringing together existing partners in a coordinated manner to mobilise additional resources to assist Pacific Islands Countries and Territories to enhance national capabilities to protect against cyber-attacks.
Recommendations emanating from yesterday’s FFMM will be considered by the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting (PIFLM52) that will convene in Rarotonga and Aitutaki in November.