Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: Australia’s diplomatic efforts in the Pacific seen bearing fruit

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has announced it wants to establish a security agreement with Australia, welcome news for analysts wary of rising Chinese influence. This decision reflects well on Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s tireless diplomacy with Pacific Island capitals. Since becoming Foreign Minister a little over three months ago, Wong has made four separate trips to the Pacific; to Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand and Solomon Islands, as well as engaging with Pacific leaders during July’s Pacific Islands Forum Summit. And these efforts appear to be paying off. Not only has PNG expressed an interest in a security pact with Australia, but Timor-Leste has also just signed a defence cooperation agreement. (https://theconversation.com/penny-wongs-diplomacy-efforts-in-the-pacific-begin-to-bear-fruit-with-png-security-pact-189710) However, there is both much more and much less to the PNG security announcement than meets the eye. The announcement by Justin Tkatchenko, PNG’s new foreign minister, was light on detail. Tkatchenko said the security treaty with Australia has been in the works since 2019 but has been spurred by the recent security agreement between Solomon Islands and China.

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