Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has sought to play down concern over China’s proposed deal with 10 Pacific nations covering policing, security and communications.
Former Kiribati president Anote Tong says the deal incorporates action on climate change – the Pacific’s biggest security concern – and has welcomed the Albanese government’s renewed focus on the issue.
Reuters reports Sayed-Khaiyum as saying, it is “simply a proposal, nobody has signed on the dotted line”.
“With many of these things, you know, they will negotiate it and people do have discussions prior to that in the same way,” Sayed-Khaiyum told ABC RN Breakfast.
Tong told the programme he wasn’t sure how China would be able to reconcile its emissions output with the pledge, Sayed-Khaiyum thought the proposal was a positive start.
“If China is willing to discuss climate change, we would assume that they would be willing to maybe do more on climate change than they currently are doing.
“Our carbon footprint is almost negligible, but we still have made a commitment to reducing our carbon footprint.”
Sayed-Khaiyum said it was critically important Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong was making the effort to visit Fiji within days of being sworn in.
He noted Fiji signed a partnership with Australia when Scott Morrison was prime minister and hoped to build on it further “and in particular with the Labor government’s commitment to climate change”.
Sayed-Khaiyum urged countries in the Pacific guard with a zeal the “serenity” of the region amid fears it could become the centre of a new contest between Beijing and the West.