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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Fijian prime minister ‘extra snug coping with conventional associates’ like Australia than China

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CANBERRA, Australia — Fiji’s prime minister stated Wednesday on a go to to Australia‘s capital that his authorities was “extra snug coping with conventional associates” corresponding to Australia as China pursues nearer safety ties within the Asia-Pacific area.

Sitiveni Rabuka and Australia’s Anthony Albanese met in the course of the Fijian’s first state go to to Australia since he most just lately got here to energy in December final yr. The 75-year-old former military colonel and coup chief had beforehand been Fiji’s prime minister from 1992 till 1999.

Rabuka sided with Australia in what he described because the “rivalry” and “one-upmanship“ between the USA and China.

“We’re extra snug coping with conventional associates, that now we have related methods of presidency, that our democracies are the identical model of democracy, popping out of the Westminster system,” Rabuka informed reporters.

“Our justice system, our policing system — we’re extra snug with associates that now we have had over an extended interval,” Rabuka added.

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However Rabuka cautioned in opposition to nations showing to be aggressive towards associates and neighbors with whom they’d cordial relations.

The 2 leaders introduced a number of developments of their bilateral relationship together with an elevation of the Fiji-Australia Vuvale Partnership, a 2019 settlement on nearer cooperation, session and friendship.

Australia agreed to promote Fiji 14 Australian-built Bushmaster armored navy autos and to achieve an settlement on cybersecurity cooperation.

Albanese stated Australia would supply Fiji with extra monetary assist to assist financial restoration after the coronavirus pandemic devastated the nation’s tourism trade.

Rabuka stated Fiji’s vacationer numbers and tourism earnings had rebounded to pre-COVID ranges, with Australia the biggest supply of holiday makers.

Australia and the USA have stepped up their engagement with the area since final yr when China struck a safety pact with the Solomon Islands that raised issues of a Chinese language naval base being established within the South Pacific.

China has additionally proposed a region-wide safety and financial cope with Pacific Island nations however a number of nations have resisted.

Rabuka stated he had been “honored” when Albanese phoned him in March to say that Australia, the USA and Britain would announce in San Diego the next day an settlement on nuclear-powered submarines.

Below the AUKUS settlement, Australia will purchase three Virginia-class submarines from the USA and construct 5 new AUKUS-class submarines in cooperation with Britain in response to China’s rising affect.

Rabuka stated Albanese had referred to as to alert him of the deal “as a result of we’re household.”

However throughout a dialogue on the AUKUS deal on Tuesday, Rabuka stopped in need of endorsing the elevated navy cooperation.

“I used to be not a part of the planning. I’m in no place to attempt to cease it. This can be a tripartite strategic mission,” Rabuka stated.

“All I can do is hope that this mission will help the idea of the zone of peace within the Pacific,” he stated.

Rabuka plans to ask that the 18-nation Pacific Islands Discussion board endorse his zone of peace proposal at a gathering within the {Cook} Islands in November.

The proposal might embrace nations refraining from actions that jeopardize regional order and stability whereas respecting neighbors’ sovereignty and territorial integrity, he stated

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