Australia’s Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong to visit Honiara
AUSTRALIAN Foreign Minister Penny Wong is traveling into the country tomorrow morning for a one day visit.
The Australia’s Foreign Minister has announced her travel to the country yesterday, the first trip since the country signed a security deal with China.
Senator Wong is the next foreign figure to visit the Solomon Islands, after a number of high-level visits from USA, Japan, and China recently, before and after the signing of the security pact.
The Australian High Commission Office in Honiara yesterday also confirmed the visit during an invitation to the local media outlets to cover her visit.
“Minister Wong will be accompanied by High Commissioner Dr Lachlan Strahan and senior officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade during her program,” the statement said.
Senator Wong is expected to meet Prime Minister (PM) Manasseh Sogavare.
“On Friday, I will visit Solomon Islands, where I will meet Prime Minister the Hon Manasseh Sogavare and a number of his Cabinet ministers,” she told ABC News yesterday.
She said Australia and Solomon Islands are committed to deepening our cooperation with Solomon Islands.
“As we work together to face shared challenges and achieve our shared goals, including on climate change,” she said.
This will be Senator Wong’s third visit to the Pacific since being sworn in last month.
She visited both Fiji and Tonga, at a time when the China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited the region.
As part of the visit the Australian High Commission is inviting the local media to follow and report on Minister Wong’s visit.
The invitation said the media will have the opportunity to capture imagery of the Minister throughout the visit and an opportunity to ask questions at a doorstop press conference that will be held at Henderson Airport at the end of the program.
“We will try our best to ensure every Solomon Islands media outlet has the opportunity to ask the Minister questions at the doorstop,” the invitation said.
The delegation is expected to arrive in Honiara from Canberra just before 11am.
She will be met by the Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands Dr Lachlan and Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Peter Shannel.
The first stop over will be at the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to meet PM Sogavare and his Cabinet members.
Media will be allowed to ask questions after her meeting with PM and the Cabinet members.
After a private lunch with the Australian High Commission Officials, Senator Wong and her delegation will visit King George Sixth School.
This is to join the Health Minister, Hon. Culwick Togamana and acting Education Minister, Hon. Frederick Kologeto for a joint announcement.
The delegation then travels to Burns Creek community where they will meet with Guadalcanal Premier Francis Sade, community leaders and the Solomons’ International Assistance Force (SIAF) members (Fiji, Australia and New Zealand) for a community event that will be organized including
inspection of a refurbished health clinic.
From Burnscreek she will travel to Henderson Airport for the doorstop press conference before departing at 6pm.
The Australian High Commission is offering transport for local journalists to attend the afternoon portion of Minister Wong’s program until her departure.
By MOFFAT MAMU