US, UK join Pacific allies in Fijian military exercise

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Fiji military exercises involving the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand ended this week as traditional allies counter China’s growing influence in this area.

The 11-day rollover exercise in Fiji began on September 12 and ended on Friday, the U.S. embassy in the Fiji capital Suva said in an email on Tuesday.

U.S. Navy Commander Victor Lange said the name of the exercise stemmed from Operation Rollover during World War II, when the U.S. fought alongside troops from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji (then a British colony) to eliminate the Papua Rabao Seoul’s Japanese base in New Guinea.

U.S. pledges to intensify engagement with South Pacific after China and Solomon Islands sign bilateral security pact In May, it sparked concerns about a Chinese naval base in the region.

US Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at South Pacific Leaders Summit In Suva in July, the United States will open new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati. She also noted that U.S. funding for fisheries aid has tripled to $60 million.

Australia’s new government, elected in May, is also taking steps to strengthen engagement with the island’s neighbours.

The government plans to build an Australia-Pacific Defence School to train neighbouring military forces in response to a potential Chinese military presence in the Solomon Islands.

Australians were reminded of World War II coming to their shores on Tuesday when drivers found a bomb that appeared to be unexploded off the coast of the northern city of Darwin. On 19 February 1942, Darwin became the first Japanese bomber target on mainland Australia in a devastating air raid.

The Port of Darwin has established a 250m (820ft) exclusion zone until the Ministry of Defence removed the suspected bomb, the ABC reported.

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