US President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver a speech to Pacific Island leaders at the State Department on Thursday (29/9), and then host them for dinner at the White House.
The event comes a day after the US began its first face-to-face meeting with leaders from about a dozen island nations stretching across the Pacific Ocean.
The United States says it has reached a “shared vision” partnership with Pacific Island nations, including new pledges of U.S. assistance, as concerns grow over China’s expanding influence in the region.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “What I hope you will bring from this event is that the US shares your vision, and that we are committed to helping make it a reality. It is a vision that recognizes that only by working together can we truly address the greatest challenges of our time facing all of our citizens, from fighting the climate crisis and health emergencies, promoting economic opportunity, to maintaining a free and free Indo-Pacific. where every country – no matter big or small – has the right to choose its own path.”
The final statement of the 11 points in the joint declaration between the US and Pacific leaders is still being discussed.
The declaration, drafted after weeks of negotiations between officials from Pacific Island nations and the Biden administration, covers issues including practicing sustainable development, tackling climate change and maintaining the security of the Pacific region and its trade.
Blinken on Wednesday also announced that the US would contribute $4.8 million to a new program called Resilient Blue Economies. This program will strengthen maritime livelihoods in the Pacific Islands by supporting sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.
Some experts say this week’s summit fixes what some consider Washington’s lack of attention to Pacific Island nations.
A senior Biden administration official said that during the summit, the White House would release “the Pacific specific strategy for the first time.” The US also plans to expand its diplomatic missions from six to nine in the Pacific.
On Wednesday evening, Pacific Island leaders were invited to US Coast Guard headquarters to discuss opportunities to improve maritime security and to confront illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. [uh/ab]