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Tuvalu accepts security and climate pact, says Australia’s Pacific minister
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Tuvalu accepts security and climate pact, says Australia’s Pacific minister

Australia and Tuvalu will go ahead with a security and climate migration pact, after the latter’s new government agreed not to change the deal, Australia’s Pacific minister, Pat Conroy, has told parliament.

The two countries had announced the deal in November, but it was thrown into doubt during an election campaign in the remote Pacific atoll of 11,000 people that is threatened by rising sea levels.

Feleti Teo became prime minister in February after a general election closely watched by Taiwan, China, the US and Australia, amid a geopolitical tussle for influence in the south Pacific. Tuvalu is one of three remaining Pacific allies of Taiwan after Nauru cut ties in February and switched to Beijing.

“The new government of Tuvalu has confirmed its desire to proceed with the Falepili Union,” Conroy said in parliament on Tuesday, as he tabled the deal for ratification. Australia would work closely with Tuvalu to ensure its sovereignty was respected, he added.

“Australia commits to assist Tuvalu in responding to a major natural disaster, a health pandemic, or military aggression. This is predicated on Tuvalu requesting such assistance.”

Tuvalu would mutually agree any third-party security or defence arrangements with Australia, he said.

The treaty allows for the migration of 280 people from Tuvalu to Australia each year, while also recognising Tuvalu’s statehood will continue even if its land is inundated by climate-related sea level rises.

Australia’s foreign minister, Penny Wong, said it was “the most significant agreement between Australia and one of its Pacific partners since the agreements for Papua New Guinea’s independence in 1975”.

Tuvalu’s government could not be immediately reached for comment.

Source: theguardian.com