Fri, 09 Dec 2022

Washington [US], September 30 (ANI): In order to checkmate the Chinese influence in the Pacific Islands, America and Pacific leaders and representatives from 14 Pacific Island states issued a joint declaration resolving to strengthen their partnership.

In the historic two-day summit, the United States and Pacific leaders reached an 11-point Declaration on US-Pacific Partnership, declaring that they shared a vision for a region where "democracy will be able to flourish.""We share a vision for a resilient Pacific region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, where individuals can reach their potential, the environment can thrive, and democracy will be able to flourish," read the declaration on US-Pacific Partnership.

Washington's plan to deepen diplomatic engagement with the Pacific comes as concerns grow about China's expanding influence in the region.

Earlier, the Solomon Islands had indicated it would not sign a joint declaration during the high-profile gathering, just five months after it signed a security agreement with China.

The President addressed the visiting leaders from a dozen Pacific Island countries in Washington on Thursday in the first-ever summit held to make the Indo-Pacific region safe and keep these island nations away from the increasing influence of China, which in the past few years has made extraordinary outreach efforts in the region.

"Today, security in the Pacific and for the Pacific Islanders remains as critical as ever to us and I hope to you as well. The security of America, quite frankly, and the world depends on your security and the security of the Pacific Islands. And I really mean that," Biden said.

The summit was attended by heads of state from Fiji, Solomon Island, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Tuvalu, Marshall Island, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Polynesia, New Caledonia and the Cook Islands.

The US also pledged its highest priority to the resolution of unresolved issues and the timely and successful completion of negotiations relating to the Compacts of Free Association between the United States and the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau--one of the cornerstones of US-Pacific cooperation for nearly four decades.

The declaration also focussed on the worsening climate crisis and recommitted to working together in genuine partnership to address the mounting challenges of the time.

"The Pacific Islands vision is reflected in its guiding documents which include the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent, a vision that the United States strongly supports. Achieving our shared vision requires a sustained partnership that is rooted in mutual respect, transparency, and accountability," read the declaration.

Meanwhile, Pacific leaders welcomed the United States' commitment to enhancing its engagement, including by expanding its diplomatic presence, the ties between our peoples, and US development cooperation across the region.

"We take the climate crisis as the highest priority of our partnership, for it remains the single greatest existential threat to the livelihoods, security, traditional and customary practices, and wellbeing of people in the Pacific region, including as reflected in the Boe Declaration on Regional Security," added the declaration.

The declaration further reiterated to strengthen cooperation on maritime security, maritime conservation, and the sustainable use of the Pacific Ocean based on the rule of law.

"We will continue to cooperate on fisheries-related economic development and oceans resilience through the Multilateral Treaty on Fisheries between the Pacific Islands States and the Government of the United States of America and its related Economic Assistance Agreement, while also forging new ties to improve maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, and maritime security; to curb the scourge of marine debris and plastic pollution; and to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing--a threat to the Pacific environment and livelihoods," added the declaration.

The summit was the first time the United States has hosted so many leaders of a region it has considered a maritime backyard since World War Two but into which China made steady advances. (ANI)

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