United States of America

US 'disappointed' by Solomon Islands snub as Pacific Island leaders gather at White House

Members of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) gathered for the second year in a row at the White House, where President Joe Biden urged leaders to "recommit to each other".

"Because with the past as our proof, we're stronger and the world is safer when we stand together," he said.

Delivering on the U.S.- Pacific Islands Partnership

The Declaration laid out an affirmative vision of cooperation and partnership to address shared challenges, bolster Pacific regionalism, advance economic growth and sustainable development, maintain peace and security in the Blue Pacific continent, and expand opportunities for our peoples.

U.S. commits over K24 billion for the Pacific

This includes over $45 million (K150 million) in new programming for Papua New Guinea, as well as additional Pacific Islands programming. 

The President’s FY 2024 Budget also requests $7.1 billion over 20 years to extend assistance under the Compacts of Free Association with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau.

The new announcements include the following lines of effort:

US Commitment to the Pacific

U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Papua New Guinea for the U.S.-Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Dialogue, demonstrating the U.S.'s renewed commitment to its Pacific Island neighbors.

The Biden-Harris Administration has committed over $8 billion in funding to the Pacific Islands region since the first-ever U.S.-Pacific Island Summit in 2022.

PNGTUC calls for transparent process

PNGTUC Secretary General, Anthon Sekum said they are not entirely against the DCA.

“It is the processes our government followed and the motivation behind fast tracking the processes with zero public consultation and Parliament debate opens up public debate to all sorts of conclusions,” Sekum said. “Any agreement that will have elements of intrusion into our sovereignty and may put the country in harm’s way must not be done without all citizens' consent.”

Defence pact signed

Yesterday evening US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and PNG’s Minister for Defence Win Daki put pen to paper, giving way to the US to increase military presence in the country and the Pacific, as China and the US compete for influence in the region.

Prime Minister James Marape assured Papua New Guineans that all aspects of the DCA will be made available to the public through a Parliamentary Statement that he will make.

“DCA does not affect sovereignty”

And he has assured Papua New Guineans that all aspects of the DCA will be made available to the public through a Parliamentary Statement that he will make.

“I am working to release the agreement for public knowledge, and on Thursday this week we will send the State Solicitor and Foreign Affairs and Defence Secretaries, to go through the DCA with students and interest groups to ensure they are informed correctly.”

US, PNG Stand Firm As Allies

Just a few days ago, the United States and PNG completed a joint military exercise called Tamiok Strike, where both defense forces trained one another for combat.  The PNG Defense Force taught the US guys how to fight in the jungles of PNG.

PNG officials travelled to Hawaii for training at the Indo-Pacific Command, and to Wisconsin over the winter – where they saw snow for the first time - to begin the new partnership with the Wisconsin National Guard. Moreover, Wisconsin National Guard forces traveled to PNG to continue the legacy of the partnership.

More PNG-based refugees sent to US

The Refugee Action Coalition said 147 refugees from Manus had been accepted by the US so far, but over 600 remain in limbo on Manus or in Port Moresby and around 800 remain on Nauru.

The US is reluctant to accept Iranians, Somali, Sudanese, Iraqi or Syrian refugees for resettlement.

The coalition's Ian Rintoul said the failure of the US deal had left the PNG and the Australian governments with a major humanitarian and refugee rights issue.

Minister confirms departure of refugees

The 19 refugees left on February 13. They were the third group who were successful in their interview and the screening process carried out by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

Minister for Immigration and Border Security, Petrus Thomas, said: “We are pleased to see significant progress in the US resettlement deal and thank the United States Government for supporting PNG’s regional effort with Australia to resettle genuine refugees.”