18 Dec 2004

Australia says defence needed against would-be terrorists in Pacific

9:06 am on 18 December 2004

The Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says his nation doesn't have any information on the presence of terrorists in the South Pacific.

But he says Australia must, nevertheless, develop what he called some means of defence.

Mr Downer's comments have come during a regional tour including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

He was responding to questions whether Canberra was concerned about the possible emergence of havens for criminals and terrorist groups in the region.

Mr Downer visited the New Caledonian capital Noumea yesterday.

Speaking in French to reporters, Mr Downer said he believed France was a good partner for Australia in the region.

He said the two countries were working together as in Vanuatu where both had aid and defence programmes.

Mr Downer is due to visit New Zealand today for talks with his counterpart Phil Goff.