In a video address on July 13 at the Pacific Island Nations Forum in Fiji, Vice President Kamala Harris said US funding for island nations in the region would triple to $60 million per year. years in the next decade, according to Reuters news agency.
“We have found that in recent years the Pacific island nations have not received the attention and diplomatic support they deserve,” Harris said.
Mr. Surangel Whipps, president of the island nation of Palau, said that the increase in funding to the Pacific region shows that the US is returning and wants to play an active role.
“Sometimes because of our remote location, we get neglected. So this is really important” – Whipps said.
Leaders of countries in the Pacific region are gathering in the South Pacific island nation of Fiji to attend the 4-day Pacific Island Nations Forum.
At the forum, the parties will view climate change as the main security challenge in the region. However, tensions between China and the US and Kiribati’s sudden withdrawal from the forum will also be discussed extensively.
In addition, the forum will discuss China’s efforts to conclude a trade and security agreement with 10 countries in the Pacific region, which some member states in the region have opposed.
Palau has defense ties with the US, diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and economic ties with China, according to Reuters news agency.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare was not present at the forum when Ms. Harris spoke but sent a representative to participate.
Before that, Solomon had reached a security agreement with China, causing the US to repeatedly express concern.
In addition, Ms. Harris announced that the US would open two new embassies in Tonga and Kiribati. Washington will also appoint its first envoy to the Pacific, according to AFP news agency.
In addition, the US is finalizing negotiations on a renewed fishing agreement with Pacific island nations. The agreement allowed American ships to fish in exclusive economic zones for decades.