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Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has reaffirmed Vanuatu's appreciation of the relationship that Vanuatu has with Australia during his visit to Australia at the end of last month.
The official Guest of Government visit to Australia was in response to the invitation of the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Samoa last year.
At the bilateral meeting, PM Salwai commented that Vanuatu-Australia relations are broadening and deepening and acknowledged that Vanuatu's strategic partnership with Australia has brought many benefits and is far from exhausting its potential.
Amidst media speculations about the influence of China in Vanuatu and the region, PM Salwai assured his counterpart that Vanuatu's relationship with China is premised on the principle of mutual respect of each other's political independence, peaceful coexistence, territorial integrity and sovereignty, and with a strong developmental component.
Part of this development cooperation will see Vanuatu sign up to the One Belt One Road initiative in November 2018 on the margins of the APEC Summit in Port Moresby.
Vanuatu's objective in potentially becoming signatory to the One Belt One Road initiative is economically driven and constitutes an important national and regional policy to promote economic partnership, trade integration and investment.
On the development front, PM Salwai discussed with his counterpart his government's policy direction to extend universal education to Year 13; providing safe and quality drinking water to Vanuatu citizens and support to government policy of 'lighting Vanuatu' through renewable energy.
PM Salwai is also seeking technical cooperation assistance with the Australian government on National Security which will cover the development of a National Security Strategy, police to police cooperation, support to a police academy and capacity building, cyber security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, intelligence and maritime surveillance and border security.
The Australian government briefed the delegation on its readiness for any emergency in case of any disaster in the future.
The Vanuatu government's discussion on security is based on the approach that new concept of security is vital and any help in security in the future will be guided by policy considerations on non-conventional notions of security that is directly affecting people's daily lives.
Both countries agreed that officials will start consultations on the security strategy.
PM Salwai assured his counterpart of Vanuatu's commitment to ratify the PACER-Plus and discussed the importance for Australia to provide early interventions with targeted assistance to the productive sector, Small Medium Enterprises, infant industry, market access, laboratory, the Pacific Labor Scheme, and three years visa for skilled labor.
PM Salwai also met a group of Vanuatu Seasonal Workers in Queensland and spoke to them, encouraged and briefed them on the government's plans and discussions on the future of Seasonal work and Pacific Labor scheme.
The two governments also discussed possible cooperation on an undersea cable from Port Vila-Honiara. Australia indicated their willingness to support Vanuatu beginning with a feasible study to determine current status and formulate a viable business case that will benefit all stakeholders.
Discussions on this matter are premised upon the government's policy of access to better telecommunication and internet services at an affordable price for Ni-Vanuatu.
PM Salwai's delegation met with the Australian-Vanuatu Business Council in a meeting organized by the Pacific Islands Trade and Investment Office in Sydney to brief them on the government's economic and investment plans.
The meeting was successful, with followups happening between the business community and the government.
Further meetings were held with the CEO of the Staff of the Royal Carribean Cruise in exploring the idea of creating a special concept of Cruise Tourism in the Southern Hemisphere on Efate.
The delegation met with academic and research institutions in Queensland to have discussions on better research into Vanuatu's productive sector, especially in agriculture and livestock in order to boost Vanuatu's production and value added capacity for export in the future.
The Vanuatu government greatly appreciate the high level of support and courtesy provided by the Australian people through their government in facilitating this important state visit to Australia.
The delegation comprised of Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity Matai Seremiah, Minister of Internal Affairs Andrew Napuat, Parliamentary Secretary Johnny Koanapo, President of Malampa Province, Acting DG of Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, PMO and PM Salwai.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
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