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New Tuvalu government reaffirms relationship with Taiwan

Alasdair Pal and Kirsty Needham -

Tuvalu's new government has reaffirmed its relations with Taiwan after the election, Tuvalu's government says, adding it wants dialogue over a new security pact with Australia.

"The new government wishes to reaffirm its commitment to the long-term and lasting special relationship between Tuvalu and the Republic of China, Taiwan," the statement said.

"It intends to reassess options that would strengthen and lift it to a more durable, lasting, and mutually beneficial relationship."

Former attorney-general and fisheries official Feleti Teo was elected prime minister on Monday after a general election in January closely watched by Taiwan, China, the United States and Australia, amid a geopolitical tussle for influence in the South Pacific.

Tuvalu, a Pacific Islands nation of about 11,200, is one of three remaining Pacific allies of Taiwan after Nauru cut ties in January and switched to Beijing, which had promised more development help.

The document, titled a "Statement of Priorities" for the new government, also supported the principles of a security and migration pact called the Falepili Union signed with Australia in November 2023, though it acknowledged transparency concerns around the deal.

The agreement allows for up to 280 people a year to migrate from Tuvalu.

It faced criticism for a section allowing Australia to vet the country's security arrangements; Simon Kofe, Tuvalu's minister of transport, energy, communication and innovation, called for it to be renegotiated in December.

"Australia stands ready to engage with Prime Minister Teo and his government on the priorities they have outlined," Australia's foreign ministry said.

"Australia welcomes Tuvalu reiterating its support for the broad principles and objectives of the Australia-Tuvalu Falepili Union."

Taiwan's embassy in Tuvalu said its ambassador Andrew Lin attended the swearing in ceremony of the new government on Wednesday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tien Chung-kwang is also due to visit the country soon.


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