Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly conducts a pass in review at the Stanley Brown Naval Base in Fiji, Sept. 26. (U.S. Navy/Cmdr. Scott McIlnay)

PORT VILA, Vanuatu - Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly completed partnership-building visits to Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji, Sept. 24-27.

Modly was in the Oceania region to meet with senior military and civilian officials to strengthen cooperation and discuss bilateral and multilateral maritime security issues and efforts.

In Fiji, meetings were held with Acting Minister of Defense, the Honorable Jone Usamate; Deputy Permanent Secretary of Defence, Ilai Moceica; Deputy Commander Fijian Military Forces, Brigadier General Aziz Mohammed; Chief of Fijian Navy, Capt. Tawake and Commissioner of Police, Sitiveni Qiliho.

“I’m very glad to be here to reaffirm our friendship with the people of Fiji and the armed forces of Fiji,” Modly said during his visit there. “I look forward to continuing our partnership and our relationship going forward.”

Meetings in Port Moresby were held with Papua New Guinea’s Defense Minister Solan Mirisim, Secretary of Defense Trevor Meauri, and acting commander of the Papua New Guinea Defense Force, Philip Polewara, as well as Philip Leo, Director General for Law and Justice, Office of the Prime Minister.

In Vanuatu, Modly met with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Vanuatu Minister of Interior Affairs, the Vanuatu Police Force, the Vanuatu Mobile Force, and the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing.

Among other topics in both nations, Modly discussed improving our military-to-military cooperation, shared security interests, and a mutual desire for safety, security and prosperity in the region.

“We welcome Papau New Guinea’s focus on the maritime environment and their efforts underway to strengthen their maritime defense force," Modly said. "We look forward to continuing our cooperation and dialogue on ways we can collaborate in the future to enhance the partnership between our two nations.

“It is part of our national defense strategy to work with countries in the Pacific, like Vanuatu, and strengthen those alliances and partnerships to ensure freedom of navigation, freedom of commerce, and of course freedom of development and prosperity,” Modly added. “We want to be a firm and active partner in the security of this region and will continue to commit ourselves to that goal.”

Earlier in the week, Modly visited Tarawa, Kiribati, where he met with local officials and also laid a wreath at the Battle of Tarawa Memorial.

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly is briefed on the patrol boat of the Vanuatu Police Maritime Wing during a visit to the island, Sept. 26. (U.S. Navy/Cmdr. Scott McIlnay)

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly meets with a delegation from the Papua New Guinea Ministry of Defense, Sept. 25. (U.S. Navy/Cmdr. Scott McIlnay)

Under Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly pays his respects after laying a wreath at the memorial for the Sailors and Marines killed and wounded during the Battle of Tarawa. (U.S. Navy/Cmdr. Scott McIlnay)