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26 February: The Week in Australian Foreign Affairs

26 Feb 2021
By Isabella Keith
Parliament House At Dusk, Canberra ACT Source: Thennicke

This week in Australian foreign affairs: the Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, IMO Council re-election bid, Operation ARGOS, and more.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne virtually attended the third Quad Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 18 February, alongside her American, Japanese, and Indian counterparts. Payne referred to the Quad as a “key pillar of Australia’s international agenda,” noting that it “[brings] together four like-minded democracies committed to respecting and upholding international rules and obligations.” She stated that “Quad countries work with ASEAN and through ASEAN-led architecture, particularly the East Asia Summit, to advance a stable and prosperous region.”

On 19 February, Payne and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack announced that Australia will seek re-election to the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Council for the 2022-23 biennium, “to secure [our] voice at the world’s premier maritime forum.” Payne noted that “re-election will allow Australia to continue to build on decades of collaboration that has resulted in significant steps forward both environmentally and economically for our country and our regional partners.”

Payne released a statement on 18 February announcing the appointment of Roger Noble as Australia’s next ambassador for Counter-Terrorism. Noble was a major general and head of Military Strategic Commitments at Australian Defence Force Headquarters.

On 18 February, Payne announced the appointment of John Donnelly as Australia’s next high commissioner to Nigeria. Donnelly will also be accredited to Benin, Cameroon, Gabon, Niger, and the Gambia.

Payne also announced the appointment of Nicholas Greiner as Australia’s next consul-general in New York on 18 February. Greiner was the federal president of the Liberal Party of Australia from 2017 to 2020 and premier of New South Wales from 1988 to 1992.

On 24 February as acting minister for Defence, Payne issued a statement announcing that Australia is deploying a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft “in support of the international community’s goal of the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of North Korea.” The aircraft will deploy on Operation ARGOS and will operate out of Kadena Airbase in Japan. Minister Payne said that “Australia is committed to the stability and security of our region and will continue to support sanctions on North Korea until it takes concrete steps towards denuclearisation.”

On 24 February, Minister for Trade Dan Tehan and Minister for Education Alan Tudge issued a joint media release announcing the five-year Study with Australia project, which will “showcase Australian education to new and existing learners worldwide.” Tudge stated that, “[of] course, we want international students back in Australia, but while international travel is limited, this initiative ensures students can stay connected to Australia and our world-leading education providers at a time when they need it most.”

Tehan also noted on 24 February that the UK and Australian Space Agencies have signed the Space Bridge Framework Agreement, which will “connect Australian and UK expertise in the space industry and showcase the strength of Australia’s space sector.”

Isabella Keith is an undergraduate student at the Australian National University studying Law and Politics, Philosophy and Economics. She is currently an intern at the AIIA National Office.

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