Minister for Defence Marise Payne, has met with senior leaders of New Caledonia and paid a visit to Exercise Croix du Sud 18.
Minister Payne said the visit reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to the security and stability of the Pacific and was an opportunity to enhance co-operation with French forces in the Pacific, and is particularly timely following French President Emmanuel Macron's recent visit to Australia.
"Australia is strengthening our partnerships across the Pacific and is committed to the security and stability of the region," Minister Payne said.
"The French Armed Forces in New Caledonia (FANC) and the Armed Forces of French Polynesia make critical contributions to regional stability."
Minister Payne met with Australian, French and US personnel on board HMAS Choules as they participated in Exercise Croix du Sud, a biennial FANC-led humanitarian and disaster relief exercise.
"The ADF’s participation in this exercise reaffirms Australia’s commitment to play a leading role in the region and to strengthen our interoperability with regional partners,” Minister Payne said.
"I look forward to meeting with officials from the French Armed Forces in New Caledonia and discussing opportunities for increased co-operation and collaboration between our forces in the region.”
Minister Payne also laid a wreath at the Croix de Lorraine memorial, which symbolises the liberation of France from Nazi Germany. The visit follows the third officials level Australia-France Strategic Dialogue held in Canberra last week.