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Pacific News Minute: President Biden to host 12 Pacific Island leaders in Washington

UN General Assembly United States joe biden 092122
Mary Altaffer/AP
President Joe Biden addresses to the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

President Biden is scheduled to host 12 Pacific Island leaders in Washington this week. The event will build on a meeting held last week at the United Nations — with some ambitious goals.

A growing U.S. partnership focusing on countries in the Indo-Pacific plans to address issues such as climate change, health and technology links.

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted a meeting with foreign ministers from the Partners in the Blue Pacific. It’s a group formed in June that includes the U.S., Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The meeting was held on the sidelines of last week’s U.N. General Assembly in New York.

The group seeks to coordinate assistance to the region in the face of security and economic competition from China.

The Biden administration has said that the president’s summit this week with Pacific Island leaders also reflects its commitment to the region. But the Pacific leaders say Washington should accept their priorities, making climate change — not superpower competition — the most urgent security task.

Some of the countries invited to the president’s two-day summit include Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Fiji. It starts on Wednesday.

White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell says the summit will involve deep engagements not only at the White House and the State Department, but all key agencies that are focused on the critical issues in the Pacific.

He adds, “I think through this effort we will be able to demonstrate most clearly that we are determined indeed to step up our game.”

Derrick Malama is the local anchor of Morning Edition.
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