Cooperation between Fiji and the United States in areas of Defence and National Security is envisaged to accelerate in strategic and innovative partnership. This has been established through a meeting recently held between the Minister for Defence, National Security and Foreign Affairs, Hon Inia Seruiratu and General Joseph L. Lengyel, Chief of the National Guard Bureau, US Department of Defence.

During
his first official visit to Fiji, General Lengyel paid a courtesy call on
Minister Seruiratu at the Ministry of Defence and National Security Office in
Suva on Friday last week. General Lengyel was accompanied by Brigadier General
Ondra L. Berry, Adjutant General, for the State of Nevada and also in
attendance at the meeting was the US Ambassador to Fiji, Mr Joseph James Cella.

General
Lengyel’s visit to Fiji aims to strengthen the cooperation for the National
Guard’s most important efforts, the State Partnership Program, which is a
dynamic joint cooperation program managed by National Guard Bureau in promoting
long-term, enduring and mutually beneficial security relationships with
friendly and allied nations around the globe.

General
Lengyel reiterated that the United States is committed to its longstanding
partnership with Fiji and there is huge potential to elevate the US-Fiji
cooperation. He said his visit to Fiji is in recognition of Fiji’s exemplary
leadership at regional and international stages towards advancing global peace
and prosperity.

The
National Guard Bureau Chief also commended Fiji’s unprecedented accomplishment
and its unwavering commitment to global peacekeeping which has earned Fiji the
respect and admiration worldwide. General Lengyel reaffirmed that the National
Guard Bureau is committed to cohesively work with Fiji in its aspirations on
unified peace and security goals.

In
response, Minister Seruiratu acknowledged the Government of United States of
America for its partnership towards defence efforts, capacity and capabilities.
He said that this cooperation has unfolded remarkable opportunities for Fiji in
recent years and that the Fijian Government looks forward to having more robust
collaborations with the United States.

“Let
me assure you General that the Fijian government is committed and we will
ensure that we improve on our defence and national security arrangements and
contribute towards the wider regional and global issues as well.

“Through
the assistance of the Australian Government, Fiji has embarked on the
development of the first ever Blackrock facility which is anticipated to
operationalize later this year. We would like to have this facility developed
into an international centre for peacekeeping and even disaster responses and
recovery. For that, we will be working together with all our international and
regional partners to be able to enhance our contributions to greater global
peacekeeping,” Minister Seruiratu elaborated.

The
challenges associated with Fiji’s climate change crisis and its work towards
climate adaptation and mitigation were part of the discussions with the US
delegation.

OVERVIEW
OF FIJI AND US COOPERATION IN AREAS OF DEFENCE AND SECURITY

–          
The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program which is
beneficial to the capacity building opportunities for senior military
personnels and Fijian soldiers into professional military and leadership
development courses in the United States.

–          
State Partnership Program and Nevada National Guard Partnership program which
generates opportunities in engineer EOD capabilities, RFMF has sent some of
their officers for the Military Police exchanges.

–          
Fiji’s Ministry of Defence representatives from National Integrated
Coordination Centre (NICC) attended a series of trainings in US. A civil
support exchange opportunity next month will be available for NICC.

–          
Signing of the Shiprider Agreement last year has resulted into greater support
by US Navy in assisting Fiji towards its ongoing efforts to secure borders.

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