Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has agreed to attend the NATO summit in Lithuania in July after coming under criticism when it appeared he would skip the high-powered gathering.
International support for Ukraine’s war against Russia will be high on the agenda at the summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, that will be held on July 11 and 12.
Albanese attended last year’s NATO summit at the invitation of host country Spain, but and reported he did not intend to attend this year’s summit, in part because of a packed schedule of travel including the coronation of King Charles III in London next month.
A spokeswoman for Albanese on Friday confirmed Albanese would attend the summit.
“Australia shares with NATO members a commitment to supporting democracy, peace and security, and upholding the rule of law,” she said.
“The Prime Minister’s attendance at this year’s NATO leaders’ summit will be an important opportunity to reinforce Australia’s support for these global norms, demonstrate solidarity in response to Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, and advocate for Australia’s economic, climate and trade agenda.”
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham welcomed Albanese’s decision to attend the summit, saying: “In what should have been an obvious and swift yes to the invitation, the Prime Minister finally has acknowledged the importance of this event and agreed to make time for it.
“Prime Minister Albanese should aim to have Australia embedded as a permanent ongoing participant in NATO dialogue and discussion, thereby ensuring continued focus on Indo-Pacific security.
“Not only should the Prime Minister be attending this summit with an agenda he should be arriving with a new and comprehensive package to support the defence of Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko also urged Albanese to attend the event.
All members of the so-called AP4 – Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand – have been invited to attend the summit even though they are not NATO members.
In late May Albanese will host US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for the “Quad” leaders’ meeting in Sydney, the first time the event has been held in Australia.
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