Strengthening Australia's links with the Indian Ocean region, particularly in areas such as education, was the focus of discussions during this week's visit to Comoros and Réunion by Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Richard Marles.
"This visit highlighted Australia's increasing engagement with our Indian Ocean neighbours and our commitment to addressing shared concerns as we prepare to take over as Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim-Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) in November," Mr Marles said.
The visit by Mr Marles was the first high level visit by the Australian Government to both the Union of Comoros and the French Department of Réunion.
"Our relationship with Comoros is growing and I'm glad our two countries have the opportunity to become closer friends. I congratulate Comoros taking on the role of the Indian-Ocean Commission (IOC) Presidency and welcome it into the IOR-ARC family."
In Comoros, Mr Marles had meetings with President Dr Ikililou Dhoinine, Vice President in charge of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, Mr Mohamed Ali Soilihi and other ministers.
In the lead up to International Women's day, Mr Marles visited Caritas Comoros to present Australian Government funded sewing equipment for use in programs that are helping build the economic empowerment of women in Comoros.
In Réunion, Mr Marles met with the French Government's representative, Mr Jean-Luc Marx, the President of the Regional Council of Reunion, Mr Didier Robert and local parliamentarians.
Discussions centered on cooperation between Australia and France in the Indian Ocean region and Australia's increasing institutional engagement, through both the IOR-ARC and IOC.
"We also talked about ways we can further our people-to-people links, particularly in areas such as education."
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