US to sign deals with Papua New Guinea amid China suspicions

Sydney, Australia, May 16 (EFE).- Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said Tuesday he would sign two strategic pacts with the United States during next week’s visit of President Joe Biden, who is trying to counteract China’s influence in the strategic Indo-Pacific region.

The signing of the pacts, one for security and one for defense, “will add value to our domestic security and strengthen our military, our police and our navy,” Marape said in an interview with Papuan radio station FM100.

Marape, who said the deals cover the fight against drug trafficking and illegal fishing, promised to detail on Thursday the proposal of the United States, which has redoubled its Pacific region presence since China and the Solomon Islands signed a security agreement in April 2022.

“For us, the United States has been a strong partner in security, but silent, almost in the rear. Now, for the first time, they are stepping up, engaging with Papua New Guinea like never before,” the president said.

Biden will become the first US president to visit Papua New Guinea, where he will stay for a day before continuing to Australia – to attend the Quad security summit, along with the leaders of the host country, India and Japan – and after participating in the G7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan.

A draft of the security pact between the US and Papua, to which public broadcaster Radio New Zealand has had access, includes the unrestricted use of the air and sea space of the country by US troops.

“Aircraft, vehicles and vessels operated by or on behalf of the US forces will be able to freely enter, exit and circulate through the territory and territorial waters of Papua New Guinea respecting the relevant regulations of air, land and maritime safety,” Article 10 of the draft statement said, according to the New Zealand broadcaster.

In addition, “said aircraft, vehicles and vessels may not be boarded or inspected without the consent of the United States,” it added.

This proposal also includes access to a series of airports and ports in Papua for training, surveillance activities, deployment of forces and cooperation and defense material, among other possible uses.

In recent months, the Biden administration has collated several pacific island nations with the purpose of reducing the influence of Beijing in this once-forgotten region, where China also seeks to expand its security deals. EFE


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