New chapter in Fiji Australia relations begins

By: Geoffrey Smith

 

The Foreign Ministers of Australia and Fiji following talks todayThe Fiji and Australian Foreign Ministers have today issued a joint statement.

In it they state they are pleased to have met in Suva to reaffirm their mutual commitment to taking the bilateral relationship forward to a new era of partnership and prosperity.

“This is the first visit to Fiji by a Foreign Minister since the election and the first bilateral visit by an Australian Foreign Minister since 2008. It demonstrates our commitment to normalise our bilateral relations,” according to the joint statement.

“We are laying the foundations for strong linkages in diverse spheres: government-government and parliamentary, defence and security, economic and trade, and people-to-people links,” the statement went on to say.

Both countries have also announced the exchange of High Commissioners.

“Reflecting our return to a normal bilateral relationship, Fiji will conclude its selection of a High Commissioner to Australia shortly, while Ms Margaret Twomey will soon take up the position of Australian High Commissioner to Fiji,” the joint statement says.

“We are also pleased to announce the establishment of regular bilateral senior officials’ talks. These will be an opportunity for Fiji and Australia to work together to address global security challenges, regional issues and strengthen the bilateral trade and investment relationship.”

Both countries are also looking forward to the resumption of full defense and regional security ties.

“Beyond our strong pledge to continue to work more closely at the Government to Government level, we reaffirmed our commitment to the continued strengthening of people-to-people links. Australia also invited Fiji to join the Seasonal Worker Program and a Memorandum of Understanding will put the necessary arrangements in place for this Program to begin,” both Foreign Ministers said.

Fiji’s inclusion in the Work and Holiday Visa program is now underway.

“We welcome Fiji’s participation in the New Colombo Plan, which will see Australian undergraduates studying in Fiji,” says Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

Australia have since announced the first group of successful students.

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