Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong (left) is welcomed to Parliament House by New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta ahead of a bilateral meeting in Wellington, New Zealand, June 16, 2022. (ROBERT KITCHIN / POOL PHOTO VIA AP)
WELLINGTON - New Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said on Thursday that her visit to the Solomon Islands this week as well as trips to other countries in the region were due to her belief that Australia had ground to make up on the issue of climate change.
Many countries in the region have been concerned about Australia's previous position about climate. So part of why I wanted to engage really early is because I think we do have some ground to make up and we want to demonstrate we bring stronger and more ambitious commitments on climate because we actually think it matters.
Penny Wong, Australian foreign minister
"Many countries in the region have been concerned about Australia's previous position about climate," she said after a meeting with her New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta in Wellington. Wong was named foreign minister late last month.
"So part of why I wanted to engage really early is because I think we do have some ground to make up and we want to demonstrate we bring stronger and more ambitious commitments on climate because we actually think it matters."
According to a joint statement after the meeting, the two foreign ministers underlined the importance of consultation on new security measures in the region.
The two countries' partnership in supporting the Pacific would include joint practical action on issues such as climate change, Mahuta said.
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The statement added the ministers were looking ahead to discussions on regional security among Pacific Islands Forum members in Fiji next month.
"During our consultations, we discussed cooperation and engagement in the Pacific region, and particularly the importance of working together to support Pacific partners facing a complex and growing array of challenges, including the effects of climate change and an increasingly contested strategic environment," said Mahuta.
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The United States and its Australian and New Zealand allies have for decades seen the Pacific islands as largely their sphere of influence.