Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Richard Marles, has completed a 2-day visit to Seychelles where he represented Australia at the 28th session of the Council of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).
Australia was invited to attend the meeting as Vice Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC). It is the first time Australia has attended an IOC Council.
Mr Marles said Australia was an Indian Ocean country and working in partnership with small island states was a global role Australia wished to play.
“This visit highlights Australia’s role as an advocate for the interests of small island states in multilateral fora and the experience we can bring to the challenges faced by states in the Indian Ocean, given our long engagement in the Pacific,” Mr Marles said.
During his visit, Mr Marles signed agreements with the IOC Secretary General committing Australia to fund disaster risk reduction pilot projects in both Madagascar and Comoros and assist in the implementation of the Madagascar Roadmap in support of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and IOC mediation.
“Developments in the last couple of days in Madagascar provide scope for optimism that this substantial country in which Australia has significant interests will realise its potential, including as an engine of growth for its smaller neighbours in the Indian Ocean region,” Mr Marles said.
Mr Marles signed an air services Memorandum of Understanding on code sharing with Seychelles.
“The air services MOU is our first with Seychelles. It will allow Australian carriers to code share with other airlines in offering services to Seychelles, broadening their networks and improving Australia’s global connectivity.”
With UNDP representatives and the Seychelles Environment Minister, Mr Marles also highlighted Australia’s $120,000 contribution to the UNDP Global Environment Fund for grass-roots climate change adaptation projects in Seychelles.
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