SYDNEY, July 9 (Reuters) – Trade and security will be priorities for Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on a trip this week to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and attend a NATO summit in Lithuania, Albanese’s office said.He will meet Scholz on Monday to discuss “deepening cooperation between Australia and Germany” in “trade and investment, the clean energy transition, and defence”, the Labor leader’s office said in a statement late on Saturday.
At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Tuesday and Wednesday, Australia will advocate for “our region’s strategic priorities and advance Australia’s security, economic and trade agenda,” the statement said.Australia is not a member of NATO but has a decades-long relationship with the Western alliance and attended last year’s summit in Madrid as a non-member participant.”
\Alongside our NATO allies, Australia continues to demonstrate our unwavering support for Ukraine, and our condemnation of Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion,” Albanese said in the statement.Australia, one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the West’s support for Ukraine, has supplied aid and defence equipment and banned exports of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia.Last month, Australia promised a new A$110 million ($74 million) package to Ukraine, including 70 military vehicles to defend against Russia’s invasion, taking Australia’s total contribution for Ukraine to A$790 million ($530 million).
Also this week, Australian Trade Minister Don Farrell will travel to Brussels, seeking to advance stalled talks for a free trade agreement between Australia and the EU.The trip comes after recent talks between Australian and European Union trade ministers, Reuters has reported, as optimism builds that sticking points over the pact can be overcome with more negotiation.
“While in Brussels I will meet my counterpart, Executive Vice-President and European Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, as well as the EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Janusz Wojciechowski,” Farrell said in a statement on Sunday.
($1 = 1.4952 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sam McKeith in Sydney; Editing by William Mallard)