Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks during a press conference alongside US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (not pictured) during the AUKUS summit on March 13, 2023, at Naval Base Point Loma in San Diego, California. (PHOTO / AFP)
SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will attend the NATO summit in July, his office said on Friday, days after his New Zealand counterpart, Chris Hipkins, confirmed his attendance.
Australia and New Zealand are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization but have a decades-long relationship with the Western alliance. Both countries attended last year's summit in Madrid as non-member participants.
The summit this year will be held in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
Albanese's office said in a statement that Australia shared with NATO members "a commitment to supporting democracy, peace, and security and upholding the rule of law" as the group looks to expand and strengthen ties.
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This file photo taken on Nov 20, 2019 shows a flag of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, during a NATO Foreign Affairs ministers' summit. (PHOTO / AFP)
Finland became its 31st member this month in a historic policy shift, roughly doubling the length of the border NATO shares with Russia. Neighboring Sweden has also applied to join.
"The Prime Minister's attendance … will be an important opportunity to reinforce Australia's support for these global norms … and advocate for Australia’s economic, climate and trade agenda," the statement showed.
Albanese had previously said he was still considering whether to travel to the summit.
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Australia, one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the West's support for Ukraine, has been supplying aid and defense equipment.