Facing China, Washington wants to increase its presence in the Pacific
< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">The United States holds an unprecedented summit of Pacific island nations in Washington, where it seeks to counter the influence of China. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken addressed summit participants.
The United States announced a new $810 million fund in aid for the Pacific Islands on Thursday at a summit attended by Joe Biden, amid growing rivalry with China in the strategic region.
The White House said $600 million will come in the form of a 10-year aid package to clean up polluted waters to support tuna fishing , while Washington will also strengthen its support for climate and development aid, and its diplomatic presence.
The US president will speak later Thursday at this unprecedented summit in Washington of Pacific island nations, which is attended by 12 heads of state and government.
Si d' x27;some carefully avoid pronouncing the name of China, the Asian giant is no less in everyone's mind, and American officials do not hide it in private.
The stated objective is to reconnect with a region close to the United States since the Second World War, but where China has become increasingly important in recent years through investments and training for military forces. order in particular, as well as a security agreement with the Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare signed this vast security agreement, with vague outlines, with Beijing last April. Many Western countries, especially the United States and Australia, fear that this pact will allow China to establish a military base in the country. The Solomon Islands, however, denied this assumption.
Speaking to AFP, the Prime Minister said that the negotiations in Washington for the adoption of a joint declaration at the end of the summit had, in a positive way, taken into account its concerns relating in particular to the regional alliances of ASEAN and the Quad (which brings together the United States , Australia, Japan and India).
The US executive also announced that the United States would recognize the Cook Islands and Niue, self-governing territories whose diplomacy, defense and monetary policy are attached to New Zealand.
Washington will thus be able to increase its diplomatic presence on these islands, which total less than 20,000 inhabitants, but cover an important economic zone in the South Pacific.
As part of this new strategy, Joe Biden has also for the first time appointed an ambassador to sit on the Pacific Islands Forum, in the person of a diplomat accustomed to the region, Frankie Reed.
The United States had recently announced the return of an American embassy to the Solomon Islands, where China has a strong presence, and the White House indicated on Thursday that American embassies would also open from Tonga and Kiribati.
In addition, the United States Agency for Development Assistance (USAID) will open a mission in Fiji by September 2023 and members of the Peace Corps, a United States government volunteer program, will be deployed to Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu, as well as possibly the Solomon Islands, according to the White House.
The summit also brings together two French territories, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, both members of the Pacific Islands Forum, as well as the US territory of Guam.
The fight against climate change is also at the center of the discussions, so that some of these archipelagos are in danger of being submerged due to rising sea levels.
Pacific islands account for only 0.03% of emissions greenhouse gases, but some are threatened with extinction, even if the international community e had to respect the Paris Agreement on the climate.