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WELLINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration plans to step up diplomatic engagement with Pacific Island nations, Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell mentioned on Monday, together with inviting Pacific leaders to the White Home later this yr.

Campbell’s message, outlined in a U.S.-New Zealand enterprise summit, comes amid rising issues over the safety implications of China’s increasing presence within the area, underlined by a pact Beijing signed with the Solomon Islands final month.

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Talking in a name from Washington DC, Campbell instructed attendees on the summit in Auckland that together with internet hosting island leaders, the US supposed to ramp up diplomatic ties with Pacific nations that had not seen ambassadors or engagement for many years.

“For the US to be efficient within the Pacific we should do extra, and we should do extra on areas that matter and are of significance to the Pacific Islanders,” Campbell mentioned.

He mentioned the Biden administration would additionally work with U.S. AID and the brand new U.S. Worldwide Growth Finance Company to fund initiatives within the area, in addition to restore the Peace Corps. to a lot of the realm.

Campbell mentioned the US would additionally enhance assist for multilateral engagement by the Pacific Islands Discussion board.

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The latter’s viability has been beneath menace prior to now yr as Micronesian nations initiated the method to stop following a disagreement over management. A ultimate resolution on whether or not they would depart has been delayed to later this yr.

Campbell mentioned the US was extra optimistic about the way forward for the discussion board and would put employees in place to assist the discussion board going ahead.

He added that together with extra engagement with Pacific nations, the US aimed to work extra intensively on regional cooperation with New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Britain, France and others.

Campbell mentioned New Zealand had prior to now been extra ambivalent often in some areas of safety, however that he didn’t imagine that might be the case going ahead.

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“I feel there may be an understanding that the challenges which are presenting themselves on the worldwide stage are usually not so distant – they’re nearer and so they have direct implications,” he mentioned.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who spoke earlier within the day on the convention, mentioned the extent of assertiveness and aggression within the area was rising, with out citing the supply of tensions.

“I don’t contemplate that we’ve an uncovered flank on the subject of safety preparations for New Zealand,” she mentioned. “We’ve sturdy partnerships and relationships and we’ve seen this rising engagement in our area.” (Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Enhancing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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