Indian PM offers solar power to Pacific island nations

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi waits to meet a delegation during the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation summit in Jaipur to discuss expanding its engagement in the South Pacific region on August 21, 2015 (AFP Photo/Money Sharma)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Friday offered to illuminate thousands of homes in Pacific island nations with solar power in a bid to help them combat climate change and natural disasters.

Modi made the pledge as leaders and delegates of 14 Pacific nations gathered in the western desert state of Rajasthan for a summit as host India attempts to boost its profile in the Pacific, at a time of growing Chinese economic and political influence in the region.

"We now commit... to provide solar electrification to 2,800 houses -- 200 houses in each Pacific island country," Modi said, after highlighting India's own plans to ramp up its renewable energy to 175,000 megawatts by 2022.

"This will save kerosene worth about $1 million," he said before wrapping up the round of talks in Rajasthan's capital Jaipur.

Low-lying island nations, some of which are little more than one metre (three feet) above sea level, are regarded as some of the most vulnerable to rising seas blamed on man-made climate change.

The Pacific islands urged global cooperation during the conference, saying global warming has raised sea levels and eroded their coastlines and increased the severity of extreme climate phenomena, such as super typhoons.

Modi extended more help to build up on human resources and space technology for natural disaster management with early warning and response systems.

He also promised support to the islands in the climate change talks scheduled to be held in Paris later this year, where world leaders are expected to forge a historic deal to cap global warming.