Mission to deepen Aussie-M’sian ties

KUALA LUMPUR: Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong (pic) will visit Malaysia on Tuesday to deepen ties and build on existing partnerships.

The Sabah-born minister is scheduled to meet her Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah as well as two Senior Ministers – Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali – during her visit.

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“I will reaffirm our commitment as Comprehensive Strategic Partners and discuss economic recovery, climate action, education ties and health security,” she said in a statement posted on the official website of Australia’s Foreign Minister, Bernama reported.

The 54-year-old said she would also travel to Sabah, adding that it was a region having long-standing ties with Australia.

“It is the region where I am from. Having spent my early years in Kota Kinabalu, I look forward to the great honour of returning to the city as Australia’s Foreign Minister,” said the graduate with a law and arts degree from the University of Adelaide.

Prior to visiting Malaysia, Wong will leave for Vietnam today, where she will be meeting President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son.

“The visit, taking place ahead of next year’s 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations (between Australia and Vietnam), will focus on climate change cooperation, shared trade and investment ambitions and Australia’s continued support for Vietnam’s Covid-19 recovery,” she said.

She added that the visit to Vietnam and Malaysia was to deepen ties and capitalise on shared economic opportunities, strengthen regional security and address issues of climate change.

She also said the visit to both countries would be her second trip to South-East Asia since becoming Foreign Minister a month ago, stressing that Australia’s future was tied to the future of South-East Asia.

“It’s more than geography that binds us – we have genuine links in Vietnam and Malaysia: family, business, education and tourism.

“My visit seeks to deepen these ties, building on our existing partnerships for the benefit of our countries and the region,” she said.

Wong was elected as a senator for South Australia in 2001, and went on to defend her seat in 2007, 2013 and 2016.

This makes her the fourth longest-serving senator in Australia.

She also made history as the first female to become the Leader of the Government in the Senate in 2013, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate after the Australian Labor Party’s defeat in the 2013 elections.

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