SYDNEY/WASHINGTON: The US and Palau agreed on Wednesday (May 17) to renew a key strategic agreement. This is part of a U.S. effort to boost support for Pacific Island nations to counter competition from China, even with President Joe Biden. Canceled historic stops in the area.
The two countries launched a new Free Association Agreement (COFA) in Palau after the US reached a similar deal with Micronesia on Monday.
“Historic day!!” Palau’s President Surangel Whips Jr.’s office posted on its Facebook page. “God bless Palau! God bless the United States of America! May God bless you!”
US Presidential Special Envoy Joseph Yun said at a ceremony in Papua New Guinea next week that the deal with Palau would be formally signed. He told Reuters this week that a renewed COFA with Micronesia would also be signed in Port Moresby on Monday.
Biden was scheduled to attend the ceremony, but canceled the ceremony scheduled for Tuesday. Short stay in Papua New Guinea according to US debt ceiling crisis.
Analysts said canceling the suspension would hurt U.S. confidence in the Pacific islands region, a region they felt had long been neglected by the U.S. government.
Yun told Reuters on Monday that he will be in the Marshall Islands from Thursday to Sunday, but that he “questioned” whether the COFA agreement could be finalized at this point.
In the 1980s, the U.S. government first entered into COFA agreements with three island nations, under which it maintained responsibility for island nation defense and provided economic assistance, while in return granting it monopoly over vast strategic areas of the Pacific. obtained access.
Updating these has become an important part of US efforts to counter China’s attempts to expand its influence in the Pacific. Chinese diplomats have shown a favorable reception to the region, and Chinese construction and mining companies are expanding their operations in many island nations.
The Marshall Islands COFA is due to expire this year. Yoon did not give a reason for the postponement of the restatement, but parliamentary elections are scheduled for November.
He said last month that the “top-line” agreement would provide the three COFA countries with a total of about $6.5 billion over 20 years.
Last year, more than 100 arms control groups, environmental groups and other activist groups called on the Biden administration to formally apologize and provide fair compensation for the consequences of the large-scale US nuclear test in the Marshall Islands.
Residents of the Marshall Islands still struggle with the health and environmental effects of 67 US nuclear bomb tests between 1946 and 1958, including one at Bikini Atoll in 1954. It also includes Castle Bravo, the largest bomb in U.S. history.
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/world/us-agrees-renew-strategic-pact-second-pacific-island-state-3495796 US agrees to renew strategic pact with second Pacific island nation