SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will attend the NATO summit in July, his office said on Friday, days after his New Zealand counterpart, Chris Hipkins, confirmed his attendance.
Australia and New Zealand are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) but have a decades-long relationship with the Western alliance. Both countries attended last year's summit in Madrid as non-member participants.
The summit this year will be held in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
Albanese's office said in a statement that Australia shared with NATO members "a commitment to supporting democracy, peace, and security and upholding the rule of law" as the group looks to expand and strengthen ties.
Finland became its 31st member this month in a historic policy shift, roughly doubling the length of the border NATO shares with Russia. Neighbouring Sweden has also applied to join.
"The Prime Minister's attendance ... will be an important opportunity to reinforce Australia's support for these global norms, demonstrate solidarity in response to Russia's illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine, and advocate for Australia’s economic, climate and trade agenda," the statement said.
Albanese had previously said he was still considering whether to travel to the summit.
Australia, one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the West's support for Ukraine, has been supplying aid and defence equipment and has banned exports of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia.
(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Neil Fullick.)