Tuvalu’s new government reaffirms relations with Taiwan

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Tuvalu’s new government has reaffirmed its relations with Taiwan after last month’s election, Tuvalu’s government said in a statement, adding that it wants dialogue with Australia over a security pact signed last year.

“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.”

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Former attorney general and fisheries official Feleti Teo was elected prime minister on Monday, after a general election 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 last month 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, 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,” a spokesperson for 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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