The United States and Papua New Guinea entered a security agreement that gives U.S. forces access to the country’s waters and ports according to Voice Of America.
The agreement was signed on Monday 22 May, 2023 in the capital-Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
This comes amid concerns by U.S following China’s influence and focus on the region.
“The Defense Cooperation Agreement, drafted by Papua New Guinea and the United States as equal and sovereign partners, will enhance the Papua New Guinea’s Defense Force’s capability to deliver humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, including through providing medical care and temporary shelter to those who are affected by crises,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a signing ceremony in Port Moseby.
Addding that; “The agreement will also make it easy for Papua New Guinea and U.S. forces to train together in new ways and in more places as part of our joint effort to uphold peace and security across the Indo-Pacific.”
Blinken said another pact signed Monday will allow Papua New Guinea forces and the U.S. Coast Guard to cooperate on countering “illicit maritime activities, including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.”
Under this agreement, both country’s forces will be able to board each other’s vessels, share technical expertise, and ultimately patrol the seas together.
Blinken visited Papua New Guinea in place of U.S. President Joe Biden, who canceled what would have been the first visit by a sitting U.S. leader to a Pacific Island country because of ongoing negotiations to avert a debt crisis at home.
On the afternoon of 18 November 2022, President Xi Jinping China met the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) James Marape in Bangkok.
At the meeting, President Xi noted that China and Papua New Guinea are good friends with exemplary solidarity working for a win-win cooperation as two developing countries.
“China will continue to work with Papua New Guinea towards a comprehensive strategic partnership at a higher level and with greater mutual benefit, with a view to playing a leading and exemplary role in building an even closer China-Pacific Island Countries (PICs) community with a shared future.” Revealed President Xi Jinping.
With a population of about 10 million people, Papua New Guinea is a small country located in the south western Pacific, encompassing the eastern half of New Guinea and its offshore islands.
It is a country of immense cultural and biological diversity. It is known for its beaches, coral reefs, Inland are active volcanoes and granite.
As the most populous Pacific Island state with close to 10 million people, Papua New Guinea is important to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region.
According to the U.S Department of State, United States established diplomatic relations with Papua New Guinea in 1975, following its independence from a United Nations trusteeship administered by Australia.
Papua New Guinea’s tight relations with China is looked at as a threat to U.S security given a recent U.S-China fall out on principles of Governance and Democracy.