Australian officials said Australia’s Foreign Minister Marisa Payne is planning a visit in the Pacific including Palau this December, but dates of the overseas travels are not confirmed yet.
Australian Embassy in Palau also said that the planned visit is “still subject to confirmation but elements are being planned.”
Foreign Minister Marisa Payne was supposed to visit Palau last year but was postponed amid the COVID- 10 pandemic and Australia’s border closure.
Ms. Payne’s visit last year was supposed to officially open Australia’s embassy in Palau.
The Australian Embassy in Palau opened on 17 December 2019 as part of Australia’s Pacific Step-Up.
“Australia is delivering on its objective to open a mission in every Pacific Island Forum member country. Expanding our diplomatic footprint in the Pacific is vital to the Step-up.” Minister Payne said in an earlier statement.
She said Australia and Palau have a strong bilateral relationship and one of a show of that ties is Australia providing a new Guardian-class Patrol Boat to Palau in mid-2020, replacing the existing Australian-made vessel.
Australia is also supporting Palau in financing a high-speed internet cable along with the US and Japan.
Some Pacific observers also characterize the visit as a way to convince Palau to stay in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF).
The five Micronesian states – Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia have announced that they will withdraw from the regional body after the Micronesian candidate was rejected in favor of Secretary-General Henry Puna.
President Sunragel Whipps in earlier interviews partly blames Australia for the rift, implying that it supported Puna along with New Zealand.
Palau has already submitted its official denunciation from the forum which will take effect in February.