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International relations

Australia and New Zealand eye new Pacific security framework

Closer ties with island neighbors seen as a bulwark against rising China

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern discussed economic and security issues in a meeting in Sydney in March.   © Reuters

SYDNEY -- Australia and New Zealand are considering upgrading a security arrangement with Pacific island nations, seeking to counter China's moves to expand its influence through development assistance.

The two nations and their Pacific neighbors are expected to agree on tighter cooperation on defense, humanitarian aid and disaster relief when their leaders meet in September at a Pacific Islands Forum summit in Nauru. It is expected to build on the Biketawa Declaration inked by forum members in 2000.

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