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Australia courts Samoa after China deal

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong has announced a new eight-year partnership with Samoa to help address human development in the Pacific island nation, and a new maritime patrol boat.

Ms Wong has returned to touring Pacific nations and ensuring that Australia’s approach to the Pacific is far different from their predecessors.

Her visit coincided with Samoa’s 60th anniversary of independence.

She told media in Samoa that Australia would respect the Pacific, hear what the nations have to say and above all their focus is action on climate change, something which all Pacific nations are calling for.

Samoa’s Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa agreed that the former Australian government had not helped maintain or better relations with the Pacific.

 “We have had a very good meeting and I am very pleased to see some of the ways in which we are working together in areas of health and development,” said Ms Wong.

“The new Australian government has been formed and we want to put in more energy and resources into the Pacific.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong has announced a new eight-year partnership with Samoa to help address human development in the Pacific island nation, and a new maritime patrol boat.. Picture: Lucy Murray Twitter

“We have made a commitment to engage more closely and to listen respectfully. We understand we need to work together as part of the Pacific family.”

Australia will donate a Guardian-class patrol boat to Samoa next year. This will replace the Nafanua II which ran aground on a reef in August 2021.

“We do understand how important these maritime assets are to island nations,” Ms Wong said.

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Ms Mata’afa said the new vessel would be critical to protecting the Pacific nation’s maritime security.

“I think it’s very generous on the part of the Australian government and people that they are gifting us yet another patrol boat despite the unfortunate circumstances of our last boat,” Ms Fiame said.

The Samoan Prime Minister also took the opportunity at the press conference to clear the misrepresentation some media had made of the deals signed between China and Samoa.

In honor of Samoa’s independence anniversary, Australia’s National Carillon was lit in the Samoan flag colours. Penny Wong Twitter

She said the signing had to do with projects and programs which were already in place and active. She said these were just processes which needed to be done.

Ms Fiame also highlighted that Samoa declined to agree to a regional deal without having it put through the regional framework.

After visiting Samoa, Ms Wong will travel to Tonga to meet with Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku and Foreign Minister Fekitamoeloa ‘Utoikamanu.

Discussions in Tonga will focus on the urgent need for aid after the volcanic eruption and tsunami in January this year.

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