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Australia cements Solomon Islands deal amid China influence debate

Solomon Islands PM Rick Houenipwela says Australia raised "concerns" about a previous deal

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Australia has formally agreed to a deal to help build a 4,000km (2,500 mile) internet cable to the Solomon Islands.

The Solomon Islands, a small Pacific nation, had originally given the contract to Chinese company Huawei.

Prime Minister Rick Houenipwela has said the decision followed "concerns raised by Australia", which neither nation has elaborated upon.

Analysts say Canberra is concerned about China's influence in the region, a subject of recent Australian debate.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday: "As we step up our engagement in the Pacific, we are working as partners with Solomon Islands more closely than ever to ensure stability, security and prosperity in the region."

Australia is expected to commit about A$100m (£56m;$75m) of its foreign aid budget to the project.

The deal will bring high-speed internet to the island chain via an underwater cable from Sydney. Australia agreed to a similar deal with Papua New Guinea last year.

source : BBC

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