Australia increases support for Timor-Leste police

The Australian government has announced it will boost support for policing in Timor-Leste as China's influence grows in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australian Minister for International Development Pat Conroy met with Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao on Monday during a diplomatic tour of the Pacific.

Australia says it will provide 23 million US dollars so police in Timor-Leste can improve their natural disaster preparedness, maritime capabilities, and response to organized crime.

Australia has supported Timor-Leste's police force for 20 years. The country remains one of Timor-Leste's largest development and security partners, but is concerned about China's increasing commitment to nations in the Pacific.

China and Timor-Leste signed a comprehensive partnership last September. The two countries agreed China would provide the island nation with infrastructure aid under Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative.

Conroy's next stop is Nauru, which switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing earlier this month.