2 Aug 2010

Australia's foreign minister to fill in for Prime Minister Gillard at Forum

1:50 pm on 2 August 2010

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Stephen Smith, is to stand in for the Prime Minister at the Pacific Island Forun leaders meeting in Vanuatu this week.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is choosing not to attend the summit because of the elections coming up on August the 21st.

Mr Smith says the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, will represent Australia at the Post-Forum Dialogue Partners' Meeting on Friday .

Mr Smith says Australia places great importance on its ongoing close and friendly ties with Pacific countries and his participation in the Forum reflects that.

The Leaders' Meeting marks the end of Australia's year as Forum chair and Australia has a responsibility to formally hand over to the next chair, Vanuatu.