Moody and Blinken meet Pacific Island leaders in Papua New Guinea

(Reuters) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged support to the Pacific islands at a summit in Papua New Guinea on Monday, and the US secretary of state is also set to meet Pacific leaders and sign a defense pact with Papua New Guinea.

Washington and its allies seek to deter Pacific island nations, which span 40 million square kilometers (15 million square miles) of ocean, from establishing security ties with China, a growing concern amid tensions over Taiwan.

Historians said Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands – which last year signed a security pact with Beijing – were central to the United States’ trans-Pacific campaign to liberate the Philippines in World War II.

Pacific island leaders have said rising sea levels caused by climate change are their most urgent security priority.

Modi told the 14 leaders of the Indo-Pacific Island Cooperation Forum that India will be a reliable development partner for the small island states and is committed to a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific”.

“Without any doubt, we are ready to share our capabilities and expertise in digital technology, space technology, health security, food security, climate change and environmental protection,” he said in his opening speech.

He added that the leaders of the Quartet, namely Australia, the United States, Japan and India, agreed in Hiroshima to increase cooperation with Pacific island countries.

See also  Thousands protest against Orban government 'superinflation'

In his inaugural address, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, urged India to think of the small island states that are “suffering as a result of the role of the big countries”.

Merab said Russia’s war with Ukraine, for example, had caused inflation and soaring fuel and energy prices in the region’s small economies.

defense deal

Modi held a bilateral meeting with Solomon Islands leader Manasseh Sogavare, whose security pact with China has Washington worried about Beijing’s intentions in the region.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to sign a defense cooperation agreement between the US and Papua New Guinea, and also hold a meeting of Pacific island leaders in the afternoon.

Several universities have held campus protests against the signing of the defense cooperation agreement, amid fears it could upset China. Marape denied it would stop PNG doing business with China, an important trading partner.

The Papua New Guinea government said earlier that the US defense agreement was an extension of an existing agreement that would bolster Papua New Guinea’s defense infrastructure and capacity after decades of neglect.

Marby told the media on Sunday that the defense agreement would also see an increase in the US military presence over the next decade.

The US State Department said Washington will provide $45 million in new funds as it partners with Papua New Guinea to enhance economic and security cooperation, including protective equipment for the Papua New Guinea Defense Force, mitigating climate change and tackling cross-border crime and HIV. / AIDS.

See also  Investigators: Rohingya camp fire was 'planned sabotage'

Blinken visited a health care clinic where U.S. funding is helping advance testing and access to antiretroviral therapy to fight HIV/AIDS.

The PNG Post Courier reported that the US commander of Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral John Aquino, attended a ceremony at Murray Barracks in Papua New Guinea to present personal protective equipment to the Papua New Guinea Defense Force.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham) in Sydney; Edited by Lincoln Feast

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *