Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong arrived in the Marshall Islands this week to mark the 35th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Her arrival in Majuro Wednesday night marked her first visit to the North Pacific since taking up her position in May. It is Wong's second visit to the Marshall Islands as she joined former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on a visit in 2018.
"This week I will travel to the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the Republic of Nauru to further strengthen Australia's ties with our Pacific family," said Wong in a statement posted Wednesday afternoon on her official website.
"I am so pleased she will be here in person to celebrate our 35th anniversary in diplomatic relations," said Australia Ambassador to the Marshall Islands Brek Batley Wednesday. "She will learn more about the wonderful 'iokwe' spirit and build even closer friendships."
Batley is Australia's first resident ambassador to the Marshall Islands and established his nation's first embassy in Majuro in 2021. Thursday afternoon this week, Wong is scheduled to officially open the embassy that has been in operation since last year.
Among other things she will be doing Thursday during a whirlwind visit to Majuro:
Signing an agreement to begin airing the first Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio program on the government's AM radio station in six years.
Meeting with President David Kabua, Foreign Minister Kitlang Kabua, and other leaders "to discuss climate action and enhance our security, environmental, cultural and economic partnerships."
"This important trip is about enhancing our security, environmental, cultural and economic partnerships with the Marshall Islands," said Batley. "It's also about building stronger people-to-people links with Australia, which is the bedrock of any enduring relationship."
The Australian Labor Party's willingness to address climate change, which Pacific Island Forum countries list as the top security concern for the island region, clears a roadblock in Australia's relationship with the islands and is especially important for leaders in this atoll nation. The Australian Foreign Minister is scheduled to make several stops Thursday while touring Majuro intended to offer her a view of climate impacts and action by the Marshall Islands to adapt to sea level rise.
In addition, she will visit the Waan Aelon in Majel (Canoes of the Marshall Islands) canoe building and training program, and deliver a speech to students and staff at the College of the Marshall Islands. In the evening, she is to be hosted at a dinner function by Minister Kabua.
She is scheduled to depart Friday morning for Nauru, where she will meet new President Russ Kun. She will also launch a new partnership with Nauru and the Australian Football League to support young athletes in Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
Wong said this is her eighth visit to the Pacific as Foreign Minister, and the first ministerial visit to the Marshall Islands since 2018, "demonstrating the priority the new Australian Government places on our region."
Earlier this year, Wong visited Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, according to the embassy.