Pacific News Minute: Biden predicted to sign defense agreements with Papua New Guinea
President Biden is set to visit Papua New Guinea's capital of Port Moresby next Monday, where he plans to meet in person with 18 Pacific Island leaders.
PNG officials say Biden is scheduled to sign defense and surveillance agreements as Washington seeks to counter China’s growing influence in the region.
The meeting is seen in the region as a major step in restoring trust.
Biden will then travel to a summit of the quad countries: the United States, Japan, India and Australia.
PNG Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko told Reuters that a Defense Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. and PNG was finalized earlier this month.
A separate agreement to allow the Coast Guard to patrol Papua New Guinea’s large exclusive economic zone is also set to be signed.
The U.S. pledged an $800 million economic assistance package after meeting with Pacific Island leaders last year.
That financial aid still needs to be approved by Congress.
American embassies recently opened in the Solomon Islands and Tonga. Talks are continuing about opening new embassies in Vanuatu and Kiribati.
For Biden, the visit to Papua New Guinea will have a personal significance that highlights the country’s importance to regional security.
During a 2016 visit to Australia, Biden said two of his uncles were based in PNG in World War II as airmen, including one who died in a plane crash in May 1944.