Australia invests in developing Papua New Guinea naval base

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia has announced it will invest in redeveloping a Papua New Guinea naval base as concerns mount over increasing Chinese influence in the South Pacific.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Papua New Guinea counterpart Peter O'Neill met in Sydney on Thursday to sign the joint redevelopment agreement for the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island.

The leaders said in a joint statement the deal will enhance interoperability between the near-neighbors' militaries and lead to more Australian naval visits.

U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has described the base redevelopment as a "terrific opportunity." Richardson is visiting Australia for talks on regional security and the Indo-Pacific region.

Richardson says it's too early to tell if U.S. warships will eventually use the port.