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Australia runs diplomatic Pacific island blitz in China's wake

Foreign minister travels to three islands in less than two weeks in office

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong, left, meets with Tongan King Tupou VI in Nuku'alofa on Friday. (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs via AP)

SYDNEY -- Less than two weeks after taking office as Australia's new top diplomat, Foreign Minister Penny Wong has already traveled to three Pacific island nations, as Canberra's competition with China for regional influence heats up.

Visiting Tonga on Friday, Wong emphasized Australia's plans to engage more with these countries in a joint news conference with Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni. "We were elected with a very clear position that we would put in more energy and more resources, bring new energy and more resources to our relationship with the Pacific," she said.

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