CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian minister and a newspaper say Australian and New Zealand officials are set to seal a new security agreement with their Pacific island neighbors as China increases its influence in the region.
The Australian newspaper reported on Friday the agreement covering defense, law and order, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief was expected to be signed at the 18-nation Pacific Islands Forum in September.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told Nine Network television the new pact is a continuation of a security agreement accepted by forum nation leaders in 2000. The Biketawa Declaration created a framework for collective responses to regional crises.
China has emerged as a major donor in the South Pacific, including in forum countries Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu.