Anthony Albanese’s jet touches down in the Cook Islands for three days of talks with Pacific leaders (and he’s still got another trip to go)
Anthony Albanese has arrived in the Cook Islands for three days of talks with Pacific Island leaders – the third leg of four consecutive international trips.
The Australian prime minister landed in Rarotonga directly from China on Wednesday, where he met the leader of the communist superpower, Xi Jinping.
Mr Albanese will spend three days in talks with leaders of the region he has described as “family”.
It is a crucial moment for Australia to assert its place in the Asia-Pacific, following Beijing’s efforts to make a greater impact in the region.
This year’s leaders’ meeting aims to tackle thorny issues such as climate change, geopolitical challenges and nuclear issues.
“Working together, through the Pacific Islands Forum, is critical to securing a shared Pacific that is peaceful, secure and prosperous,” Albanese said.
Australia, along with fellow regional heavyweight New Zealand, has paid close attention to the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in recent years as part of a renewed diplomatic focus.
Anthony Albanese has proven his intention to take climate change seriously with a whirlwind visit to the Cook Islands
Although Mr Albanese’s extensive itinerary has attracted the most attention since Kevin Rudd was nicknamed ‘Kevin 747’, evidence shows he actually made no more jet sets than his predecessors
Locals in traditional costume wait to greet Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese
READ MORE: No-nonsense Aussie’s brutal assessment of Anthony Albanese
And while it is a crucial relationship to maintain, the Prime Minister is facing increasing criticism for his travels as Australians struggle at home with rising mortgages, petrol prices and grocery bills.
Mr. Albanese was recently in China to mend strained relations with Xi Jingping, and the trip was by all accounts a success.
Before that, he stood with the President of the United States, Joe Biden, at a state dinner in Washington. He returns to the US next week to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in San Francisco.
Albanese’s first meeting in the Cook Islands after landing on Wednesday was with Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano, who asked for help in combating and adapting to climate change.
“It is my duty as the leader of a country that will be flooded – this is how it will be,” Natano told Albanese.
The Polynesian leader welcomed the meeting and told journalists he would support Australia’s proposal to host a Pacific-focused COP conference on climate change in 2026.
The Australian Prime Minister has ignored criticism of his intensive travel schedule of late, landing in Rarotonga on Wednesday on a direct flight from China
He will spend three days talking to leaders of the region whom he describes as ‘family’
Mr Albanese began his premiership two days after winning the election with a trip to Tokyo
“We know that Tuvalu is on the front lines of climate change and the impact is certainly felt most acutely in island states like Tuvalu,” Albanese said.
“My administration was elected on a platform to take action on climate change and I look forward to working with you for the good of both our countries, as well as for the good of the world.”
Mr Albanese also met with Kiribati President Taneti Maamau and Cook Islands Prime Minister and PIF Chairman Mark Brown on Wednesday.
Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr said climate change would remain a major focus of the forum, along with the role Australia could play.
“Australia’s climate policy has changed dramatically and we need to encourage Australia to continue in that direction and not go backwards,” he told ABC Radio.
The centerpiece of the meeting is an overnight retreat for the leaders of the 18 member states on the beautiful island of Aitutaki.
Pictured: the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Kausea Natano, and the Prime Minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese
Albanese traveled to Washington for the first time in October, where he was treated to a state dinner with the Bidens and a slew of celebrities and businesspeople
The next day, non-members – known as ‘dialogue partners’ – will descend on the Cooks to lobby Pacific countries on a wide range of issues.
At last count, more than twenty countries are sending delegations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, China and the United States.
In a sign of increased U.S. interest in the region, the Biden administration is sending Cabinet official Linda Thomas-Greenfield, its ambassador to the United Nations.
China’s involvement has also deepened, especially through its security ties with the Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands will be a notable absentee from the Cook Islands, while the leaders of Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and New Zealand will also not be present for various reasons.
International travel made by PMs
Anthony Albanese has been criticized for his foreign travels. Watch them stack up.
The record for most trips abroad by a prime minister in the first 12 months of office was set by Kevin Rudd in 2008, but was later equaled by Tony Abbott and surpassed by Scott Morrison.
Japan (May 23 – 25)
Indonesia (June 5 – 7)
United Arab Emirates (June 27)
Spain (June 27 – July 1)
France (1 – 2 July)
Ukraine (3 – 4 July)
Fiji (July 13 – 14)
United Kingdom (16 – 20 September)
Japan (26 – 28 September)
Cambodia (11 – 14 November)
Indonesia (14 – 17 November)
Thailand (17 – 19 November)
Papua New Guinea (12 – 13 January)
India (March 8 – 11)
United States (March 11 – 14)
Fiji (March 15)
United Kingdom (May 3 – 6)
Japan (May 19 – 21)
Singapore (June 1 – 2)
Vietnam (June 3 – 4)
Germany (July 10)
Lithuania (11 – 12 July)
New Zealand (26 – 27 July)
Indonesia (6 – 7 September)
Philippines (7 – 8 September)
India (9 – 10 September)
United States (October 23 – 26)
China (4 – 7 November)
Cook Islands (November)
United States (November)
Indonesia (August 31 – September 1)
Singapore (13 – 15 November)
Papua New Guinea (17 – 19 November)
Argentina (November 30 – December 2)
Iraq (December 20)
Vanuatu (15 – 16 January)
Fiji (17 – 18 January)
New Zealand (February 22)
New Zealand (March 29)
Solomon Islands (2 – 3 June)
United Kingdom (4 – 6 June)
Singapore (June 7)
Japan (June 27 – 29)
Tuvalu (14 – 16 August)
Vietnam (22 – 24 August)
France (24 – 26 August)
East Timor (30 – 31 August)
United States (September 19 – 27)
Fiji (11 – 12 October)
Indonesia (19 – 20 October)
Thailand (November 3 – 4)
United States (December 16 – 21)
Japan (November 17 – 18)
New Zealand (May 30 – 31)
Singapore (June 10)
United Kingdom (June 11 – 15)
France (June 15)
United States (September 21 – 27)
Italy (30 – 31 October)
United Kingdom (1 – 2 November)