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Australian opposition slams premier for turning down NATO summit invitation

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Wednesday took flak from the opposition for turning down an invitation to attend a major NATO security summit.

Albanese has turned down an invitation to attend the July summit in Lithuania, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.

Senator Simon Birmingham, the main opposition Liberal Party’s foreign relations spokesperson, said that Albanese’s behavior risks weakening Australia’s important partnerships.

Albanese was invited to take part in a security summit for the second consecutive year.

Noting that NATO invited Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand to the summit, Birmingham said that this invitation showed NATO’s willingness to establish close relations with the region.

He said the prime minister should also use the conference to announce further support for Ukraine.

“More than a year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is no time to be a no-show, ” he maintained.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong told Sky News that she could not provide information on Albanese’s program, adding that it was important for Australia to work with allies “near and far.”

Wong said NATO member states may be geographically far apart, but the principles are the same.

“We must work together for a more stable, independent, rules-based world, and that’s why Australia supports Ukraine,” Wong said.

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