Pacific Islands Forum: leaders prepare to sign a security agreement

Nauru President Baron Waqa, second from left, poses with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, fourth from left and other Pacific leaders for a group photo during the Pacific Islands Forum

Pacific leaders meeting in Nauru are expected to sign a security agreement that addresses climate change and crimes such as drug smuggling and illegal fishing that crosses borders.

The leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum say they consider climate change to be the greatest threat to the security of their nations, since the low-lying islands of the Pacific would cease to exist as the sea level rises.

The signing of the security statement, which also addresses cybercrime and health concerns, such as communicable diseases and pandemics, is the centerpiece of the three-day meeting.

Nauru President Baron Waqa, left, talks to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern before Pacific leaders meet for a photo opportunity

AAP

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrived in Nauru to attend a full day leaders retreat and signing ceremony.

Early on Wednesday, fishing and community groups from the Pacific signed an agreement with the European Union to improve sustainable fisheries and the governance of the oceans in the region.

Under the Pacific-European Union Association, the EU will provide 35 million euros ($ A56.3 million) and Sweden will provide 10 million euros in five years. The program will provide direct assistance to
organizations

Tensions over China and refugees have been rising in the forum after Nauru accused a Chinese official of intimidation on Tuesday and temporarily detained a New Zealand journalist.

The president of Nauru, Baron Waqa, said that a Chinese official had demanded to be heard when other leaders had to speak, and had been "very insolent" about it.

"Maybe because he was from a large country, he wanted to intimidate us," Waqa said.

Nauru recognizes Taiwan and has no diplomatic relations with China.

Nauru police arrested Television New Zealand journalist Barbara Dreaver about three hours after they saw her interview a refugee outside a restaurant.

Nauru has been eager to limit the discussion during the forum of the more than 600 refugees living on the small island under a controversial agreement with Australia.

Dreaver said he was just doing his job.