Australia, Tuvalu sign new security memorandum

Australia signed a new security memorandum on Thursday with the south Pacific island nation of Tuvalu. It is seen as part of an effort to curb China's increasing influence in the region.

The document includes an extension of Australia's security guarantee to Tuvalu. It follows a pact last year that virtually allowed Canberra to veto any security deal Tuvalu signs with another country. Some critics accused Australia of undermining Tuvalu's sovereignty.

The new document says Tuvalu still needs to agree with Australia before it signs a security deal with a third party.
But it also says Tuvalu does not need Canberra's permission to enter talks with other partners.

The two sides agreed that there is only a narrow set of circumstances where such cooperation could be of concern.

Australia also announced it will provide more than 70 million dollars in aid to Tuvalu. The money will be used to fund an undersea cable, a land reclamation project and a national security center.

The South Pacific has seen more countries switching diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China. Nauru was the latest to do so in January. That left Tuvalu one of only three remaining Pacific island nations that still have ties with Taiwan.

Feleti Teo, who became Tuvalu's new prime minister in February, has reaffirmed his country's commitment to maintaining relations with Taiwan.