SYDNEY (Reuters) – Leaders in Australia and New Zealand on Friday pledged to take their ties to a “new level” through greater collaboration on climate change and regional security.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the two countries share concerns about the Pacific as China pressures to expand its influence in the region.
“We are on the Pacific crossing,” Albanese told reporters in Sydney at a news conference with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“The Prime Minister and I are determined to take Trans-Tasman relations to a new level,” he said.
Recently, China reached a security pact with the Solomon Islands, to the dismay of the United States and its allies in Australia and New Zealand, which for decades have seen the Pacific islands as much of their sphere. of influence.
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China has rejected its concerns and is making progress in building ties, saying it poses no military threat and that development and prosperity benefit everyone.
Ten Pacific countries have recently postponed consideration of a comprehensive trade and security pact with China.
Albanese took office after winning a general election last month, promising Pacific Islanders a new approach to tackling climate change, which threatens their existence.
Ardern, the first foreign leader to visit Australia since his election, welcomed Australia’s new position on the climate, adding that the election victory signaled “an opportunity for a resumption” of their relationships.
“Climate change is a global issue, which is very important in our region, and we are very eager to work together with our Pacific partners on this important threat,” Ardern said.
He said governments wanted to see an increase in the voices of Pacific Islanders in the region, as despite many dialogues, many countries had not had a chance to speak for themselves.
Ardern also raised Australia’s controversial deportation policy at its meeting with Albanese, who promised to “work” on the issues.
Australia is deporting foreigners convicted of crimes as part of a crackdown on immigration that could also deprive people of dual citizenship of Australian citizenship.
Politics has seen hundreds of people deported to New Zealand, a country some abandoned when they were children.
About 670,000 New Zealanders, nearly 15% of the country’s smallest population, live in Australia, according to official figures.
(Report by Renju Jose in Sydney, Lucy Cramer in Wellington; Edited by Robert Birsel)
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