US President Joe Biden to Sign Defence and Surveillance Agreements with PNG

U.S. President Joe Biden will make a historic visit to Papua New Guinea (PNG) on May 22. The trip, which is part of Biden’s wider Asia-Pacific tour, will be the first visit by a U.S. president to the South Pacific’s most populous nation. The visit is significant, as it aims to strengthen strategic relations between the two countries, and the broader region. The visit aims to improve on five key areas.

According to Justin Tkatehcnko, PNG’s foreign minister, Joe Biden will sign a Defence Cooperation Agreement and a separate agreement to allow the U.S. Coast Guard to patrol PNG’s exclusive economic zone. The Defence Cooperation Agreement finalised last week, will officially be signed during Biden’s visit. The agreements will allow the U.S. to help PNG monitor its waters and protect its natural resources from illegal activities such as fishing.

The U.S. will double its development assistance to PNG from $16 million to $32 million, with $25 million earmarked to tackle PNG’s security priority of climate change. This aid is significant given PNG’s vulnerability to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, flooding, and extreme weather events.

The U.S. is seeking to deter Pacific island nations from security ties with China amid tensions over Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited the region three times, including a 2018 visit to PNG. The U.S. is keen to strengthen its strategic presence in the region.

Joe Biden’s visit to PNG will have personal significance. Two of his uncles were based in PNG in World War Two as airmen, including one who died in a plane crash in May 1944. The visit highlights PNG’s importance to regional security and marks an effort to strengthen U.S. ties with its allies in the Pacific.

Biden’s meeting with 18 Pacific island leaders during his visit is seen as a major step in restoring trust in the region. Pacific leaders have expressed that they have felt like a “flyover country,” and that they have been overlooked in meetings. The visit aims to promote greater regional cooperation and strengthen ties with U.S. allies in the Pacific.

Joe Biden’s visit to PNG highlights the strategic importance of the Pacific region and marks an effort to strengthen U.S. ties with its allies. The visit aims to promote greater regional cooperation and deter Pacific island nations from security ties with China. Biden’s meeting with Pacific leaders is seen as a step in restoring trust in the region, which has been previously overlooked by major powers. The visit is expected to last only one day.

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