On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will join fellow Pacific leaders at a virtual retreat to discuss the region’s response to the CCP virus pandemic.
The online forum will see 17 leaders from the Pacific, whose security and prosperity are intertwined, come together to address the health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic.
“The economic cost of the pandemic has been severe for the Pacific region,” Morrison said in a statement on Wednesday. “Australia is proud to be supporting our Pacific family to maintain a resilient, sustainable and secure region as we also manage the impacts of the pandemic at home.”
Australia has committed $200 million to help deliver the roll-out of vaccines to the region. This is in addition to $80 million for the Gavi COVAX Facility’s Advance Market Commitment which provides vaccines to the highest-risk groups in eligible countries, including in the Pacific.
“I look forward to discussing with the 17 other Pacific leaders how we can work together to continue to manage the health impacts of the pandemic, deliver vaccines to Pacific communities, and drive post-COVID-19 economic recovery in the region,” Morrison said.
With the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, preventing an in-person meeting, Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said he looks forward to inviting U.S. President Joe Biden to Fiji in August.
“COVID-19 kept our meeting virtual today, but we are committed to an in-person PIF meeting in Fiji this August. I’ve invited [President Joe Biden] to join us and see firsthand how Pacific Island nations are coping on the frontlines of the climate crisis,” he wrote on Twitter after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wished the meeting well.
COVID-19 kept our meeting virtual today, but we are committed to an in-person PIF meeting in Fiji this August.
— Frank Bainimarama (@FijiPM) February 3, 2021
Blinken wrote: “The United States congratulates Pacific Islands [Forum] leaders on holding their virtual meeting today. [President] Biden is committed to working with our Pacific Islands Forum partners to confront the defining challenges of our time, including climate change and COVID-19.”