13 Jul 2018

Biketawa Plus promises broader Pacific co-operation

9:52 am on 13 July 2018

A commentator on Pacific issues says the updated Biketawa Declaration being prepared by Pacific countries is not a device to counter China's influence in the region.

The claim made last week in the newspaper, The Australian.

But a former diplomat turned academic, James Batley, said the so-called Biketawa Plus emerged when the regional assistance mission to Solomon Islands wound up last year.

The mission was carried out under the aegis of the original Biketawa agreement, and Dr Batley said there was a desire among the countries involved to maintain such cooperation.

He said he thinks the new deal will continue the current agreement's security cooperation elements, but it will go further.

"My sense from talking to Pacific Island leaders and officials is that there is also an interest in a broader concept of security - this idea of human security, which brings in perhaps more co-operation in areas like responses to natural disasters and even perhaps climate change, as well as areas like countering transnational crime," he said.

James Batley

James Batley Photo: DFAT