Vanuatu to firm up Australia's new aid commitments

Ralph Regenvanu said the visit was a "great start" to reaffirming the strong friendship between the two nations and provided a more intimate setting where the two sides could be frank in their discussions.

It also allowed Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai to broach the subject of West Papuan self-determination with his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison, Mr Regenvanu said.

Australia's commitments included new climate change adaptation initiatives.

NZ congratulates Vanuatu scholarship recipients

“Congratulations to those of you here today who have been awarded either a New Zealand Scholarship in New Zealand or Fiji,” Mr Schwass told the recipients at a reception.

He said this year New Zealand awarded 35 scholarships and 15 recipients are women who will be undertaking Postgraduate studies.

17 people will be studying in New Zealand and 18 will be studying at the University of the South Pacific - Laucala Campus and Fiji National University.

Australia and Vanuatu reaffirm strong relationship

“This relationship is based on common values, shared aspirations respect and friendship and our shared interest in the peace and prosperity of our Home Pacific”

The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison’s historic and first official visit to Vanuatu reinforces the importance of this relationship for both countries, following on from the Prime Minister of Vanuatu’s official visit to Australia in June last year.

Kava imports to Australia get green light from Morrison on Pacific visit

The bitter drink, which has mild sedative and euphoric properties, is culturally important in Pacific communities but has had import restrictions in Australia for many years.

Mr Morrison agreed to the proposal after a meeting with Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai in Port Vila on Wednesday.

"We have agreed that we will be working to put a pilot program together to ease some of the limitations on importation of kava into Australia," Mr Morrison said after the meeting.

"That is for personal use, I should stress."

Nestlé uses PNG and Vanuatu beans for new volcanic KitKat

Beans from the two Melanesian countries are a central part of the blend in Nestlé Japan's new Sublime Volcanic KitKat launched this week in Tokyo.

It comes in a series of three flavours from volcanic islands of the Pacific.

The Vanuatu flavour is sourced Malakula Island, the Papua New Guinea flavour is from Karkar Island, and the Philippines bar from Mindanao Island.

One of the world's biggest food and health companies, Nestlé has also been sourcing palm oil for some of its products from a supplier destroying rain forests in Indonesia's Papua region.

Vanuatu and Fiji must call on Australia to end offshore detention - Amnesty

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is visiting both countries this week in an historic act he says is aimed at reflecting the depth of his government's commitment to the region.

It's the first bilateral visit of an Australian leader to either country.

But Amnesty International said it is a chance for Vanuatu and Fiji to raise the "regional humanitarian crisis triggered by Australia's indefinite detention of refugees and people seeking asylum".

Earthquake of 6.6 magnitude strikes off Vanuatu: USGS

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat from the quake.



Relief efforts continue in Vanuatu’s Ambrym

The Malampa PEOC and other humanitarian partners, Red Cross, and clusters are working to ensure that affected communities are evacuated to safer parts of the island.

The PEOC has identified five affected communities and three primary schools.

The Ambrym onsite EOC has been established and is coordinated by two NDMO officers and Malampa province.

Malampa province has donated some food items for the affected communities.

Vanuatu not keen on Australian security treaty

Ralph Regenvanu's comments come ahead of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison's visit this week.

The Daily Post reported that Australian officials explicitly asked for a treaty during Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai's visit to Canberra last year.

However, Ralph Regenvanu said they hadn't responded positively yet.

Mr Reganvanu said there would be no prospect of a change in Vanuatu's 'Non-Aligned' status.

The foreign minister later clarified that this stance was not aimed specifically at Australia.

Vanuatu committee to consider pardoning former MPs

Don Ken said it was designed to heed the president's call for "reconciliation and forgiveness".

One of the five-person committee's first acts will be to consider calls for several former MPs who are currently in jail to be pardoned.

Five former MPs were sent back to prison in June for their role in conspiring to pervert the course of justice when they worked to have themselves pardoned in 2015.

They had conspired with the then-Speaker of Parliament to have their corruption convictions absolved, in a decision that was eventually overturned by the President.