US President Joe Biden will visit Papua New Guinea, becoming the first sitting president to do so. During his visit, Biden will sign two agreements with the Pacific island nation related to defense and surveillance. One agreement will allow the US Coast Guard to patrol Papua New Guinea’s exclusive economic zone with Papuan officials on ships. The second agreement involves defense cooperation and the use of US satellite security systems to help monitor Papuan waters and protect the country’s natural resources from poaching and illegal theft. In addition, the country will receive $32 million in financial assistance from the US, including $25 million to combat climate change.
Biden’s visit to Papua New Guinea comes amid growing rivalry between the United States and China for influence in the Pacific region. Last year, the Solomon Islands signed a security treaty with China, drawing criticism from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand.
However, the two countries assured each other that the pact did not involve the construction of Chinese military bases. The United States has also been expanding its diplomatic activity in the region, reopening its embassy in the Solomon Islands after 30 years of closure and planning to open an embassy in Vanuatu, in addition to establishing diplomatic representations in Kiribati and Tonga.
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