The United States announced $810 million in new funding for Pacific islands at a summit with President Joe Biden amid inroads by China in the strategic but sparsely populated region.
- The White House said $600 million will be in the form of a 10-year package to clean up and develop dirty waters to support the tuna industry, while the United States will also expand climate and development aid and its diplomatic presence.
- Biden will also address the first-ever Washington summit of Pacific Island nations, including 12 heads of state or government, in hopes of using a personal touch to reconnect with a region that has been tied closely to the United States since the Second World War.
- With the U.S. until now often seen as taking the region for granted, China has asserted itself strongly in recent years through investment, police training and, most controversially, a security pact with the Solomon Islands.
- The Biden administration also announced that the United States would recognise Cook Islands and Niue, a self-governing territory whose foreign and defence policies and currency are linked to New Zealand.
- The step will allow the United States to increase its diplomatic footprint in the Cook Island and Niue, which have fewer than 20,000 inhabitants.