WASHINGTON, D.C.: The White House announced on Friday (Saturday in Manila) that United States President Joe Biden would host Pacific Island leaders in Washington, D.C. later this month amid growing worries by the US and Western allies about China's activity in the region.
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the September 28 and 29 meetings "will demonstrate the United States' deep and enduring partnership with Pacific Island countries and the Pacific region."
Biden has invited Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Nauru, Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga and Fiji to take part in the summit, according to the White House.
The announcement comes days after the Solomons earlier this week asked countries to not send naval vessels to the South Pacific nation until approval processes are overhauled, amid concerns over a new security pact between the Honiara and Beijing.
The government made the request after the US Coast Guard cutter Oliver Henry and the British navy patrol boat HMS Spey canceled planned port calls last week due to bureaucratic delays.
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The US and the United Kingdom are among countries concerned that a new security pact with Beijing could lead to a Chinese naval base being constructed less than 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) off Australia's northeast coast.
The Biden administration came into office on Jan. 20, 2021, looking to put greater focus on the Asia-Pacific amid growing concerns about China as an economic and military competitor.
To that end, Biden has agreed to the sale of nuclear submarines to Australia and raised the profile of the Indo-Pacific security dialogue known as the Quad (Australia, India, Japan and the United States).
He's also called out China for military provocations against Taiwan, human rights abuses against ethnic minorities, and efforts to squelch pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong.