AUSTRALIA’S new foreign minister Julie Bishop has extended the government’s sympathies to the families of victims of the mass shooting in Nairobi including a Tasmanian man and his pregnant partner.
Speaking in New York, Bishop condemned the “brutal attack on innocent civilians” saying the death of London-based architect Ross Langdon and others are a reminder that “we must do all we can to fight terrorism”.
Langdon and his Dutch partner Elif Yavuz were killed when members of a Somali Islamist terrorist group went on a shooting spree in an upscale Nairobi shopping centre on Saturday. The couple was expecting the birth of their first child in coming weeks.
Bishop said it was not known whether there were more Australians among the 62 known to be killed or about 200 injured in the attack staged by the Somali group al-Shabab.
The minister, less than a week into her new role, commented on the attack in Kenya on the first day of her visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly’s gathering of world leaders.
Later this week she will participate in UN discussions about the civil conflict in Syria and push an Australian initiative for an international treaty on the sale of small arms. Her presence at the UN coincides with Australia’s stint in the presidency role of the international body’s Security Council.
In addition to chairing the Security Council on Thursday, Bishop, the only woman in the new coalition cabinet, was planning a raft of bilateral meetings, including discussions with her counterparts from Korea, Japan, China and Indonesia today.
“In terms of priorities, obviously Syria will be uppermost in people’s minds,” she said.
“Australia is taking the lead in finding a resolution, hopefully for some further humanitarian aid for the conflict in Syria.”
The Abbott government’s policies on asylum seekers, broadly criticised by Indonesia, would not be the only focus of her talks with that country’s foreign minister Marty Natalegawa, she said.
“The relationship with Indonesia is much broader than the one issue of border protection.”