Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has signed a Pacific partnership for development with his counterpart from Vanuatu, with the aim of lifting school retention rates and combating malaria.
Mr Rudd signed the partnership with Vanuatu's prime minister, Edward Natapei, at a meeting in Canberra yesterday.
It's the fifth such agreement Australia has signed following the Port Moresby Declaration of 2008, when the Rudd government committed to "a new era of cooperation with the island nations of the Pacific".
The partnerships aim to speed up progress towards the eight UN Millennium Development Goals, which include halving extreme poverty, halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education by 2015.
Mr Rudd said in a statement that through the partnership, Australia and Vanuatu are working to lift primary school retention rates by phasing out school fees, in collaboration with New Zealand.
He said combating malaria will be another important focus, building on the reduction of malaria rates by 38 per cent in 2008.
The partnership will also see Australia help the island nation improve infrastructure and reform economic governance.