Aussie PM to host Fiji counterpart despite following recent tensions

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-12 13:32:22|Editor: ZD
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CANBERRA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama will visit Australia from Thursday to Sept. 17 for meetings with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison.

Morrison welcomed the Fijian prime minister to Australia, eight months after the pair committed to holding more regular meetings.

"Australia and Fiji, a key regional leader, have a strong friendship and a long history of cooperation, shared interests and values," Morrison said in a media release.

"We will discuss shared regional challenges such as illegal fishing and climate change, opportunities for increased trade, investment and labour mobility, as well as strengthening our cooperation on defence and security.

"Australia is committed to stepping up our engagement with Fiji and the Pacific more broadly to address common challenges and deepen longstanding ties in our region."

Morrison has made ramping-up Australia's engagement in the Pacific his foreign policy priority since he was re-elected in May.

However, Bainimarama's visit comes less than a month after he launched a scathing attack on Morrison.

In an interview with Guardian Australia in August, Bainimarama accused the Australian prime minister of being "very insulting and condescending" during the Pacific Island Forum (PIF).

Morrison was left ­isolated at the forum, rejecting any wording in the PIF declaration for "an immediate global ban" on new coalmines and coal-fired power plants, according to The Australian report.