Australia’s foreign minister, Marise Payne, is about to fly to London, Geneva and Washington over the next fortnight.
The trip’s Washington leg will represent the Australian government’s first ministerial, in-person consultations with the Biden administration, she said.
Payne issued a statement saying the overall aim of the trip is to meet with close allies and partners “to further Australia’s interests in the Covid-19 period and beyond”.
The trip will begin with a visit to the UK on Tuesday and Wednesday. That will include a meeting with the foreign and development ministers of the G7 countries, “as well as additional invitees Australia, India, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the chair and secretary general of Asean”.
Payne describes this event as “a major strategic discussion ahead of the G7 leaders’ meeting in June”, to which Australia has also been invited. She says the group will discuss “critical issues on advancing open societies and promoting global democratic values”. The agenda also includes “how to ensure equitable vaccine access availability and the promotion of prosperity and security in the Indo-Pacific”.
Apart from the combined meeting, Payne said, she will hold one-on-one talks with the other invited foreign ministers. She will meet with senior ministers of the Johnson government to discuss the UK’s recent blueprint for a tilt to the Indo-Pacific region. She will meet in London with her French and Indian counterparts to discuss strengthening ties among the three countries.
Payne said she will then travel to Geneva for talks with international organisations “on the global response to Covid-19 and key humanitarian and human rights issues”.
That will be followed by a trip to Washington, where the talks “will focus on the work of Australia and the United States individually and together to support the resilience of the Indo-Pacific region, as we address the Covid-19-induced health and economic crises, and intensifying strategic competition”.
That last line is a reference to the increasingly tense relationship between China and the US.