Albanese pushed to attend NATO security summit

Simon Birmingham says Australia snubbing a NATO summit will risk weakening its partnerships.

Simon Birmingham says Australia snubbing a NATO summit will risk weakening its partnerships. Photo: AAP

The opposition says it’s concerning that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese might turn his back on the opportunity to join a major NATO security summit.

Mr Albanese has turned down an invitation to attend the July summit in Lithuania, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said the snub would “risk weakening key Australian partnerships”.

“Prime Minister Albanese should be attending the NATO summit to demonstrate Australia’s 100 per cent commitment to the rules-based order, our democratic partners and the defence of Ukraine,” he said.

Mr Albanese had been asked to take part in a security summit for the second consecutive year.

Senator Birmingham said an invitation extended to Australia, Japan, Korea and New Zealand – known as the AP4 – highlighted NATO’s willingness to engage with the region.

“NATO has shown its ambition to strengthen ties with the AP4 and it’s unquestionably in Australia’s interests to turn their ambition into an enduring reality,” he said.

“More than a year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is no time to be a no-show.”

He said Mr Albanese should also use the conference to announce further support for Ukraine.

Acting prime minister Penny Wong said she would not announce Mr Albanese’s schedule. She said it was important Australia worked with allies “near and far”.

“Geographically, the countries of NATO may be a long way away, but the principle is the same,” she told Sky News.

“We should work together for a world which is more stable, where sovereignty is respected, where the rules-based order continues to operate and that’s why Australia has continued to support Ukraine.

“It’ll be a matter for the Prime Minister whether he determines he can attend or not.”

Mr Albanese is on leave and hasn’t confirmed any travel plans.

Parliament will be on a five-week break from late June to the end of July but Mr Albanese is expected to be jet-setting well before then.

He will attend the King’s coronation in London in May and will host Quad leaders in Australia. He has also been invited to attend the G7 in Japan, to be held from May 19-21.

The Pacific Islands Forum is due to be held in coming months and a trip to the US is also on the cards for Mr Albanese this year.

Malcolm Davis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute previously said Mr Albanese’s attendance at the summit was crucial.


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