US President Joe Biden.
US President Joe Biden will host a second summit with Pacific Island leaders this week.
Biden held an inaugural summit with former Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and other island leaders at the White House last year.
He was due to meet the leaders during the Pacific Island Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea in May, but the plan was cancelled when a U.S. debt-ceiling crisis forced Biden to cut short an Asia trip.
The international media is reporting that the US is holding this summit to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
During the three-day meeting, the U.S. will announce diplomatic recognition for two Pacific islands, promise new money for infrastructure, including improving Internet connectivity via undersea cables, and honour regional leaders at an NFL game.
At last year’s summit with 14 Pacific island nations, Biden’s administration pledged to help islanders fend off China’s “economic coercion” and a joint declaration resolved to strengthen their partnership, saying they shared a vision for a region where “democracy will be able to flourish.”
The White House says this year’s effort will focus on priorities including climate change, economic growth, sustainable development, public health and countering illegal fishing.
Fiji has welcomed the stronger U.S. regional presence as making the Pacific “more secure.
Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka attended an annual reception hosted by Joe Biden, during the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week last Wednesday.
While this engagement was not a speaking opportunity for Rabuka, it represented an essential diplomatic channel for fostering relationships and advancing mutual interests with the US.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who has deepened his country’s ties with China, will skip the summit, while Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman will also not attend the summit.