Bilateral engagement between Fiji and the United Kingdom is envisaged to deepen in areas such as economic recovery, climate change, and sustainable development.

This was conveyed during the courtesy call paid yesterday by the newly appointed Deputy High Commissioner at the British High Commission in Fiji, Mr Paul Welsh to the Permanent Secretary at the Office of the Prime Minister, Immigration and Sugar Industry and Acting Permanent Secretary Foreign Affairs, Mr Yogesh Karan.

PS Karan congratulated Mr Welsh on his new appointment and reaffirmed the Fijian Government’s commitment to working closely with the British High Commission in advancing Fiji and UK bilateral cooperation.

He commended the United Kingdom for its remarkable partnership towards the development of Fiji and Pacific Islands. He also conveyed appreciation to the UK for its cooperation in the areas of climate change, ocean conservation, trade, defence and security.

Mr Welsh noted that High Commissioner, Melanie Hopkins had overseen a deepening of Fiji and UK relations and that the British Government was determined to further enhance the Fiji and UK bilateral relationship. 

He also highlighted the significant financial assistance that the United Kingdom provides to multilateral donors in the Pacific region and the support that this contributes to Fijian society. 

New opportunities have also emerged for Fiji’s defence and security leaders to receive training at the world renowned institution of the UK Royal College of Defence Studies. Mr Welsh congratulated Commissioner of Police Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho on being offered a study participation at the College.

Mr Welsh described this as a demonstration of the importance and depth of Fiji and UK bilateral relations.

He also praised Fiji’s exemplary leadership in championing climate change both at the international and regional level and stated that COP26 next year would be an important moment for cooperation with Fiji and the Pacific region, particularly given Fiji’s chairing of COP 23.

“As the United Kingdom approaches the chairing of COP26 we will be working closely with Fiji and other Pacific Island nations in ensuring that the interests of this region are taken into account. It is a critical area of our cooperation,” Mr Welsh said.

He also spoke on the key areas of priorities he would aspire to advance during the 4 year term as a UK diplomat in Fiji.

“For the British High Commission, it is continuing to support Fiji and other Pacific Island nations through our development assistance, we are already a large donor to multilateral actors in this region. This contributes significant support to Fijian society and its economy.  This contribution really matters to us and I hope that we can do more to raise awareness of the impact this has on Fijian society.

“It’s a special year for Fiji with the 50th anniversary of independence. I am personally delighted to be arriving at such an important time and if there is anything we can do to mark this special date in collaboration with Fiji and other partners, we will be delighted to do so,” Mr Welsh elaborated.

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