Australia, NZ to tighten Pacific islands security


APIA, Samoa: Australia and New Zealand announced plans Friday to step up security in the Pacific as the United States warned of potential terror threats to the region.

Speaking at the annual Pacific Islands Forum in Samoa, an attending US delegation raised the possibility of terror groups using isolated Pacific islands as hideouts.

“That might be a place to exploit for transit through to other countries,” the US acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs Susan Thornton told reporters in the capital Apia.

“So we talked about the importance of having good information sharing on things like electronic passports and other migration data.”

New Zealand Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee said his nation would provide NZ$11.5 million (US$8.41 million) for aviation security including equipment and training.

“Pacific island countries must meet global aviation safety and security standards, and this funding will provide passenger and baggage screening equipment that will help them to meet those standards,” Brownlee said.

Drug trafficking, people smuggling and illegal fishing were also discussed at the forum.

Australia—which is already building 19 patrol boats to help island nations protect their waters—announced it would fund an aerial surveillance mission to crack down on crime, particularly illegal fishing.



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