SYDNEY (Reuters) - Fiji and Australia will cooperate on cyber security, with Australia also boosting aid to its Pacific Islands neighbour under an enhanced partnership, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said after meeting his Fijian counterpart on Wednesday.
Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, on his first three-day official visit to Australia since becoming leader in December, said the relationship with Australia was warm.
Under Rabuka's government, Fiji has put a decade-old policing agreement with China on hold, and sought to increase defence ties with Australia.
"We are more comfortable dealing with traditional friends. We have similar systems of government, our democracies are the same brand of democracy," Rabuka told reporters in Canberra.
Fiji wanted the Pacific to be a "zone of peace", he added.
In a speech on Tuesday evening to the Lowy Institute, Rabuka noted rivalry between the United States and China was intensifying, and the Pacific Islands countries, which span more than 30 million square kilometres (11.5 million square miles) of ocean, had a duty to carry the banner of peace.
"Pacific unity is central to the relationship in our region and Fiji plays a critical leadership role," said Albanese.
Albanese said Australia had agreed to provide more budget support to Fiji "to help economic recovery and to boost growth", and would sell it 14 Bushmaster protected vehicles to support the Fiji military's peacekeeping operations around the world.
Fiji will also be included in a pilot of streamlined visa processing to make it easier for Fijians to travel to Australia.
(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)