Tonga Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni welcomed Tuesday, senior defence delegates from the region to discuss Pacific security challenges and build collective Pacific responses.
Attending the 7th South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting (SPDMM) in Nuku’alofa are delegates from Australia, Chile, Fiji, France, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, as well as observer nations Japan, the United Kingdom and United States.
PM Sovaleni said: “The region faces growing traditional and non-traditional security threats that affect us all, including climate change. When we collaborate, share information and enhance interoperability, we are better able to respond”.
“We are committed to working together to support each other in times of crises. We saw this when regional forces co-deployed to support Tonga following the volcanic eruption and tsunami in January of this year.
“And His Majesty’s Armed Forces stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners in the region, ready to assist others in their time of need.”
“Together, we are stronger.”
In 2022, the forum will focus on progressing initiatives to enhance coordination, increase interoperability and improve information sharing between SPDMM partners.
“I am pleased to be hosting my counterparts from across the region in Tonga this week – almost one decade since Tonga hosted the inaugural meeting, in 2013 – and I look forward to collaborating on outcomes that build Pacific resilience.”
“Collective action is at the heart of the Pacific way.”
Delegates agreed that the next meeting will be hosted by France in New Caledonia in 2023.