Australia to recall all foreign diplomats to help shape foreign policy

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CANBERRA, March 1 (PNA/Xinhua) — The Australian government has announced that every foreign ambassador will be brought back to Canberra for a two-day summit next month to revamp Australia’s foreign policy in “uncertain times.”

Dubbed the “Global Heads of Mission Meeting,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Wednesday that Australia’s 113 foreign diplomats, including all ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls-general, will fly to Canberra to help the government form the Foreign Policy White Paper, which is due to be released later in the year.

Bishop said recent trends towards protectionism, as well as the changing face of terrorism, has prompted the government to review its foreign policy.

“At a time of significant global uncertainty, it is vital that Australia harness the experience and intellect of our most senior diplomats,” Bishop told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.

“This meeting will be important in strengthening Australia’s influence and standing in the world.”

The envoys will meet with Bishop, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Trade and Investment, Steve Ciobo over the two days to formulate a plan for Australia’s future foreign policy.

The two-day summit is expected to come at a taxpayer cost of around 1.1 million Australian dollars, but is not expected to become an annual or continual fixture. The last Foreign Policy White Paper was released by the Howard government back in 2003.

Last year, Bishop said the White Paper would be a “comprehensive strategic framework” for the government to “positively shape and have some influence over our national interests, rather than reacting to events once they have occurred.”

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