MELBOURNE (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has told students in Melbourne that Australia had showed it was capable of the best of humanity, transforming the life of his step-father who arrived as a teenage refugee after the Holocaust.
Blinken is in Melbourne for the Quad meeting of foreign ministers on Friday, when he will meet counterparts from India, Japan and Australia.
On Thursday morning he spoke with students at the University of Melbourne, where his late step-father graduated, after he arrived with no education from Poland.
“Australia remade him,” Blinken said, adding his family held Australia in a special place.
“It showed after a demonstration of how humanity is capable of the worst, it’s also capable of the best.”
Highlighting the closeness in values between the two nations, he said it was imperative for Australia and the United States to work together to tackle challenges from climate change to the pandemic, and ensuring technology was used to advance humanity.
“At a time when so many of those values and interests have been challenged, I think there’s more of an imperative than ever, that our two countries be together, work together.”
From Australia, Blinken flys to Fiji to reassure Pacific island leaders that Washington and its allies are committed to providing security and COVID vaccines, as China steps up its aid and influence in the region.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)