Diarytimes Media Network, Shimla Published by : Kumud Sharma, Updated May 22, 2023 by Diary Times
The United States and Papua New Guinea have signed a new bilateral defense cooperation agreement – a move that has sparked controversy in the Pacific Island nation and comes as Washington and China jostle for influence in the region.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape signed the pact and a maritime security agreement on Monday during Blinken’s visit to the capital Port Moresby.
Advance text of the agreements were not released by either side, but the new defense cooperation was expected to expand US access to military and other facilities in PNG, bolstering Washington’s security ties in the South Pacific.
That region – a constellation of sparsely populated island and archipelago nations and territories as well as New Zealand and Australia – has outsized strategic significance. The Pacific Islands, for example, were the site of decisive battles during World War Two.
The region has taken on renewed importance for Washington as it seeks to bolster its relationships and presence in Asia amid rising tensions with an assertive China that’s rapidly expanded its naval capabilities in recent years.