Fourteen Pacific states meet in Washington . . .
U.S. President Joe Biden is hosting the U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit on September 28-29, the first time the U.S. has invited leaders from across the Pacific to meet in Washington. On the table for discussion with the 14 participating Pacific states are new joint initiatives, a new Pacific strategy, and the renewal of Compact of Free Association (CFA) agreements between the U.S. and three countries in the Micronesian region (the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of Palau). CFAs require the U.S. to provide economic and development support for these countries in exchange for operating military bases within their borders.
Historic deal signed . . .
The U.S. initiative to improve and deepen ties with Pacific states amid growing competition with China in the Pacific got off to a rocky start. Days before the summit, the Marshall Islands reportedly called off negotiations to renew its CFA with the U.S., and it appeared that Solomon Islands, which signed a security deal with China earlier this year, would not sign the U.S.-led draft joint declaration. Nonetheless, it was reported this morning that all participating states agreed to the joint declaration. It outlines that the U.S. will provide C$1.11 billion for additional programs; create a new ambassador post for the Pacific Islands Forum, the region’s premier multilateral organization; open four new diplomatic missions in the region; and re-establish a U.S. Agency for International Development mission in Fiji. A similar initiative by China in June to win over 10 Pacific Island countries with a sweeping multilateral security and economic co-operation deal was rebuffed. At this week's summit, Biden also announced the U.S.’s first-ever Pacific Partnership Strategy.
Canada to join Partners in the Blue Pacific . . .
Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of State hosted a Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP) Foreign Ministers Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. In June, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S. created the group to strengthen economic and diplomatic ties between the Pacific and the rest of the world and support the Pacific Island Forum’s 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent. The PBP discussed technology and connectivity, climate change and the environment, economic development, and regionalism. Canada and Germany, which attended as observers, made commitments to further engage with the Pacific and join the PBP. According to a draft of Foreign Minister Melanie Joly’s speech reportedly leaked to Reuters, the move to increase ties with the Pacific is part of Canada’s soon-to-be-released Indo-Pacific Strategy.