Bishop to head bipartisan Australian visit to Micronesia

Australia's Minister of International Development, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (L), arrives for the opening of 48th Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Apia, Samoa on September 5, 2017. The 48th PIF leaders meeting takes place from September 4-8. Photo: AFP or licensors

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Minister for International Development Concetta Fierravanti-Wells embark on a tour of Micronesian states this weekend.

According to a joint press release, they will travel to Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands from Sunday until Thursday.

The ministers will be accompanied on what they’re calling a ‘bipartisan’ visit by their opposition portfolio counterparts, Senator Penny Wong and Senator Claire Moore.

According to the release, they will sign aid partnerships with Palau and the FSM, and discuss the PACER Plus regional free trade deal.

The Australians are to meet with the head of each of the Micronesian states.

Among the main areas of discussions are support for efforts to protect marine environments and maritime resources.

“In Palau, we will meet President Tommy Remengesau and senior Ministers to discuss the environment and opportunities for greater cooperation,” the release said.

“We will also meet female members of Palau’s Congress and announce Australia’s role in implementing the Palau Pledge, an innovative eco-tourism initiative.”

In the Federated States of Micronesia, the Australians are to hold talks with President Peter Christian and visit the country’s Australian-funded Pacific Patrol Boat unit “to see how our cooperation assists the region to secure its valuable maritime resources”.

“In the Marshall Islands, we will meet President Dr Hilde Heine to discuss cooperation on education, security and development matters. We will also visit the United States military base on Kwajalein Atoll and the Australian-funded drinking water plant on Ebeye Island.”