photo from US Department of State

Australia’s Foreign Minister Marisa Payne will be visiting Palau next week to officially open the Australian Embassy here.

In a press conference on Wednesday, the Office of the President announced the visit od, Ms. Payne, bolstering Palau and Australia’s relationship.

With this, Ms. Payne is a press statement also announced the appointment of Ms. Richelle Turner as Australia’s first resident Ambassador to Palau.

Ms. Turner is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and is currently Director, Pacific Telecommunications Section. She has previously served overseas as First Secretary, Australian High Commission, Suva; and First Secretary, Australian Embassy, Jakarta.

Ms. Turner holds a Masters in Marketing Management; a Bachelor of International Business from Griffith University; and a Graduate Certificate in International and Community Development from Deakin University.

“The Australian Embassy in Palau opened on 17 December 2019 as part of Australia’s Pacific Step-Up. It will bolster our diplomatic network, already the largest in the region of any country,’ Ms. Payne said in a statement on Feb. 27.

“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.”

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’s role as host of the Our Oceans Conference 2020 over 17-18 August.

Ms. Payne thanked outgoing Ambassador George Fraser for his contributions “to advancing Australia’s interests in Palau since 2016.”

Mr. Fraser was accredited to Palau from the Federated States of Micronesia. (B. Carreon)