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Newsline: Vanuatu’s top diplomat calls Australia a ‘close security partner’ for region

Australia is a close security and humanitarian partner for Vanuatu and the Pacific island’s new government has not held security discussions with China, Vanuatu’s foreign minister said on Monday. Vanuatu Foreign Minister Jotham Napat told reporters in Port Vila on Monday that Australia was “a close security partner of Vanuatu and the region”, where climate change was seen as the biggest security threat. “We also took the opportunity to acknowledge Australia’s role as Vanuatu’s primary humanitarian partner due to its close proximity and through its commitment to support Vanuatu, its disaster resilience, response and recovery capabilities,” he said. He pointed to the wharf and police barracks built with Australian funding as examples of security cooperation between the two nations. Vanuatu has “not established any security agreement, we have not even discussed any matter in relation to security” with China, he told reporters in response to questions. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/australia-close-security-partner-region-vanuatu-minister-2022-12-12/) Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is visiting Vanuatu with a bipartisan delegation to open an Australia-funded wharf at a maritime police base, and hold talks on improving work and education opportunities in Australia for Vanuatu citizens. Australia stepped up its diplomacy throughout the Pacific islands after the Solomon Islands signed a security pact with Beijing in April. China has been a significant lender for infrastructure projects in Vanuatu in recent years, building its parliament house and sporting stadiums.

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