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Australian premier skips NATO summit in US

Australian premier skips NATO summit in US

 
- Facing opposition criticism, Anthony Albanese says Canberra ‘not in the room’ of NATO
 

By Yasin Gungor

ISTANBUL (AA) - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has skipped an invite to attend the NATO summit in Washington, while several leaders from the Asia-Pacific region are set to attend the military bloc’s event which also marks its 75th anniversary.

The summit is scheduled to commence on Tuesday in Washington and Canberra will be represented by Defense Minister Richard Marles.

Experts and media have been busy discussing Albanese abandoning the NATO summit, which invited leaders from the Asia-Pacific region to its summits in Spain and Lithuania over the past two years.

Albanese opting out of the summit comes amid a political crisis marring the ruling Labor Party which saw one of its lawmakers resigning over a policy issue on Palestine.

Senator Fatima Payman resigned after supporting a motion, brought by the opposition Greens Party to recognize an independent Palestinian state, leading to her exclusion from party meetings.

The ruling party has been accused of abandoning its commitments to Palestine.

Opposition Liberal Party, however, criticized the prime minister’s absence from the NATO summit, calling it a “dereliction of duty.”

Peter Dutton, the opposition leader, said Albanese's move to abandon NATO summit was a signal that the ruling party may call snap elections.

He accused Albanese of "putting domestic politics ahead of national security."

Albanese, however, has defended his decision by pointing out that Australia was not a member of NATO.

Recalling how Dutton had moved a motion in the parliament last year urging the prime minister not to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the US, Albanese said Australia is a founding member of the bloc “and needed to participate in that forum, as opposed to NATO, where for a lot of the NATO Summit, as an observer country, we're not there.”

“We're not in the room with the NATO members when that takes place,” Albanese said in an interview.

APEC held its summit in San Francisco last November.

The leaders of South Korea, Japan and New Zealand, which are not NATO members, are attending the 2024 NATO summit for the third year in a row.

Albanese attended the previous two summits in Spain in 2022 and Lithuania last year.

Canberra is an important ally of Washington in the region as part of the US-led Quad, a loose security alliance along with Japan and India.

Australia is also part of the AUKUS pact under which Canberra will get nuclear-powered submarines from the US and UK.

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