Australian PM starts official visit to Fiji to enhance bilateral relationship

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SUVA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrived here on Thursday to begin a two-day official visit to Fiji, aiming to strengthen Australia's bilateral relationship with the island nation.

After their "fruitful" bilateral talks behind closed doors, both Morrison and his Fijian counterpart Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama were happy to announce the "Vuvale"(family) partnership between the two countries.

Morrison said that Fiji and Australia are nations of great friendship and the two countries are like family while Bainimarama said he was confident that the partnership would help Fiji and the region.

Morrison announced several assistance packages that Australia would be providing to the island nation in the next coming years with the major highlight being Fiji's inclusion in the Pacific Labour Scheme.

Australia will also work with Fiji on a comprehensive border security assistance package, he said, adding that in the weeks ahead there will be high level delegations from Australia's border agencies coming to Fiji to put together the details and arrangements of the border security assistance package.

He also announced that through the Pacific Partnership Maritime Security Program, two patrol boats will also be given to Fiji.

Meanwhile, he also announced the Australia and the University of the South Pacific Partnership (USP) which will be worth more than 84 million Fijian dollars (about 39.7 million U.S. dollars) over the next 6 years. This will ensure that tertiary education in the island nation will be able to meet future needs.

Morrison also said that the Australian government in partnership with Free TV in Australia will commit 17.1 million Fiji dollars (about 8.08 million U.S. dollars) to provide 1,000 hours of new Australian TV content each year for three years for Pacific broadcasters.

Morrison also paid a courtesy call to Fiji's President Jioji Konrote and attended a wreath laying ceremony at the National War Memorial on Thursday.

Morrison will deliver a keynote address in the University of the South Pacific in Suva, capital of Fiji On Friday.

This is the first official bilateral visit to Fiji by an Australian prime minister. Enditem

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