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Beijing signs agreement with Samoa, Australia says it has plans for the Pacific

SYDNEY (Reuters) – China said on Saturday it had signed an agreement with Samoa to boost diplomatic ties between the two countries, while Australia said it had a comprehensive plan for the Pacific region amid competition between Beijing and Canberra in the region.

The Sino-Samoa agreement follows another security agreement signed last month between Beijing and the Solomon Islands, which extends China’s military presence from the Australian coast to Washington and Canberra. Explained as a step for raising less than km.

Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has made the Pacific Islands a diplomatic priority, saying on Saturday his government’s plan includes a defense training school, maritime security support, increased aid to the region and a reaffirmation of the fight against climate change. .

“We will be active in the region and we want to get involved,” he told reporters.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi concluded his visit to Samoa during his visit to the Pacific to pursue a free trade and defense agreement with ten countries, where he met with Prime Minister Fiam Naomi Matafa and signed a number of documents. Economic and technical cooperation agreement, “Samoa said in a statement.

“Samoa and the People’s Republic of China will continue to pursue greater cooperation that meets our common interests and commitments,” the statement said.

Fijian Prime Minister Frank Pinemarama said on Saturday that he had a “wonderful meeting” with Australian Foreign Minister Benny Wong, who visited his country a few days after taking office.

“Fiji is not someone’s backyard: we’re part of a Pacific family,” he wrote on Twitter, in a post with a photo of two politicians shaking hands.

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While Wang Yi expressed confidence that the relationship between Beijing and the Solomon Islands would serve as a regional model, Penny Wong said Canberra would be a stringless partner.

(Report by Samuel McKeith in Sydney; French edition Claude Sentjo)