New Zealand, Fiji Sign Defense Deal

New Zealand and Fiji signed a defense pact on Wednesday. The agreement aims to boost military training and maritime security. It also lays the legal framework for military cooperation.

Fiji is among the Pacific island nations where Washington and Beijing have been competing for influence. That’s because the nation and its neighbors occupy a key strategic region.

The sense of urgency came to a head last year when Beijing signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands. It put the West on high alert amid concerns that the deal could lead to a Chinese military base just a thousand miles off the coast of Australia.

Since then, the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand have been working on boosting ties with Pacific nations. Washington signed a defense cooperation deal with Papua New Guinea last month.

Fiji signed a policing agreement with China over a decade ago, but the country’s current prime minister suspended that pact after he took power.

 

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