Biden, Modi to meet Pacific leaders in ‘historic visit’ to Papua New Guinea

Sydney, Australia, May 1 (EFE).- The United States’ President Joe Biden and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will meet leaders of the Pacific Island Forum on May 22 in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the island nation’s prime minister, James Marape announced on Sunday.

The Papuan prime minister’s office announced the summit on social media after the White House officially confirmed Biden’s “historic visit” to the South Pacific strategic region, where the US and China are locked in a tussle for greater influence.

“Papua New Guinea is ready to receive both President Biden and Prime Minister Modi. This is a historic first, and at the same time a ‘going forward’ futuristic meeting of global superpowers, in the biggest country in the Pacific,” Marape said in a Facebook post.

After a bilateral meeting with Marape, Biden will hold a separate meeting with 18 leaders of the Pacific Island Forum, who will be present in Port Moresby at the same time for the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC).

“In the Indo-Pacific conversation, PNG and the Pacific (Islands) cannot be ignored. With our combined forest and sea areas, we have the world’s greatest carbon sink, and the biggest sea and air space on earth,” Marape said, adding that “we also face the greatest threat to our existence as climate change affects our lifestyles and our economies.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Port Moresby to co-host the third India-Pacific Islands Cooperation Forum, to be held between May 21-24.

The forum, launched in 2014, is a platform brings together India and 14 Pacific Island Countries.

Biden is set to arrive in PNG after attending the G7 summit in Japan’s Hiroshima on May 20 and 21.

He will subsequently set off for Australia to attend the Quad leaders meeting in Sydney on May 24.

Biden’s visit to the South Pacific comes amid a surge strategic importance of Papua New Guinea as Beijing and Washington vie for influence in the once-forgotten Pacific region.

The US stepped up its diplomatic outreach to the Pacific region countries after China signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in 2022. EFE


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