12 Feb 2022

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken arrives in Fiji

5:47 pm on 12 February 2022

The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken has arrived in Fiji, the most senior ranking United States government official to visit Fiji in almost four decades.

There is tight security on Denarau Island, the location of Sofitel Resort and Spa where Secretary Blinken's Pacific Leaders meetings will take place.

Additional mobile CCTV cameras are on the popular tourist spot and public access is restricted. Media have been notified of US Embassy and Fijian Government security screening on all those allowed at the meeting venue.

Fiji army personnel await flight of US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken

Fiji army personnel await flight of US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken Photo: Lice Movono

Secretary Blinken arrived in Nadi this afternoon following a visit to Melbourne Australia where he met with members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or QUAD, a security partnership between the United States, India, Japan and Australia.

Following on from the QUAD talks where the main agenda was Covid-19 and China's rising influence in the Pacific, Secretary Blinken will meet with Fijian government officials and representatives of other Pacific Islands governments, some of via online.

The view from Philip Toogood's terrace on Denarau Island.

Security is heavy at Fiji's Denarau Island Photo: Supplied/Philip Toogood

Mimicking the visit in 1985 by then Secretary of State George Shultz, Secretary Blinken will stay only six hours and is expected to meet Fijian press and answer questions after his meeting Pacific leaders.

Thirty seven years ago, Secretary Shultz was in Fiji to show appreciation after Fiji reopened ports to US naval ships. At the time, Pacific nations banned American nuclear powered vessels from its ports.

At the conclusion of the QUAD meeting last night, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the Quad was committed "to supporting Indo Pacific countries' efforts to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific."

Although according to Australian government reports, the QUAD discussed mutual areas of cooperation such as maritime security, pandemic recovery, vaccination, cyber security and challenges in the global supply chain, the crisis in Ukraine was also discussed.

Australia has announced its intention to host an Indo-Pacific Clean Energy Supply Chain Forum in mid-2022.

(L to R) Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Scott Morrison, Japan Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken before Quad meeting of foreign ministers in Melbourne on February 11, 2022.

Photo: AFP

"Our meeting advanced the Quad's positive and ambitious agenda. We are focused on working closely with Indo-Pacific partners to address the region's most important challenges. Working together as the Quad, we are more effective in delivering practical support to the region," Senator Payne said.

Quad partners have collectively provided more than 500 million vaccine doses of the 1.3 billion vaccine doses it has pledged to provide, Senator Payne said.

Reiterating the importance of international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Secretary Blinken's Pacific Leaders meetings is expected be a key part of the QUADs goals to deepen engagement with Pacific partners.

"The Quad is exchanging information on ever-evolving threats and working with Indo-Pacific countries, and in multilateral fora, to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism. We denounce the use of terrorist proxies for cross-border terrorism and urge countries to work together to eliminate terrorist safe havens; disrupt terrorist networks and the infrastructure and financial channels which sustain them; and halt cross-border movement of terrorists. In this context, we call on all countries to ensure that territory under their control is not used to launch terror attacks and to expeditiously bring to justice the perpetrators of such attacks."