Suva, Fiji: Vice President Kamala Harris announced the opening of two new embassies at major regional summits, and the United States launched a major promotion to the Pacific on Wednesday. Washington has begun missions in Tonga and Kiribati and will also appoint the first Pacific region envoy, Harris said in a speech to the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji that he promised to fund the region with $ 600 million. The advent of Videolink was a diplomatic coup for the United States, and China’s attempt to secure a meeting as a bystander at the summit was rejected.

The forum shows that Pacific leaders have met for the first time since the Solomon Islands signed a controversial security agreement with China earlier this year. And the heightened US-China conflict in the Pacific is drawing a keen interest in this year’s conference, which brings together leaders from across strategically important regions.

“It’s the first time the United States has opened an embassy in Tonga and I’m really happy,” Tonga’s Prime Minister Xiao Si Sovaleni told AFP. “This is a big milestone. We are very pleased to finally have a presence in the United States in Tonga,” he said. Forum Secretary Henry Puna also welcomed Harris’ announcement and called it “a breath of fresh air.” “We have a long history of relationships and friendships with the United States, but in recent years they have disappeared from the region,” he told AFP.

USA v China

At least one employee of the local Chinese embassy was in the Vice President’s speech room and was asked to move out of the area reserved for the media, causing turmoil among the organizers. Harris said she and President Joe Biden acknowledged that the Pacific may not have received enough attention and support in the past.

“We’re going to change that,” she promised, adding that the United States “wants to significantly deepen our presence in the Pacific region.” Harris said the Pacific Ocean in Washington reflects her desire to “start a new chapter”, boosted by a $ 60 million annual pledge to the Forum Fisheries Agency and the resumption of Peace Corps in the Pacific Ocean. Said.

The United States also appoints the first regional envoy in history and launches the region’s first national strategy. Harris said the United States would like to cooperate in ocean security, disaster relief and infrastructure projects that “do not bring insurmountable debt.” This is a subtle swipe of Beijing’s lending policy. Pacific expert Tess Cain said, “It’s a bit surprising that the Vice President won the talk slot, given that the forum is traditionally limited to Pacific leaders Australia and New Zealand. It was. “

Australia arrives

Australia’s new Prime Minister Anthony Albanese landed in Fiji on Wednesday and attended a forum that visited the Pacific Ocean for the first time since winning the election. Albanese tries to repair the broken relations of his country in the region after Australia screams and tears at the last forum meeting after Australia tries to muzzle the announcement of climate change.

“Under the former Australian Government, they simply refused to do anything meaningful about climate change, and this has been felt as a personal insult by a generation of Pacific leaders.” Wesley Morgan, a Pacific expert on the Climate Council, said.

However, the US-China conflict and the shocking decision of Kiribati’s Beijing leaders to withdraw from the forum on the eve of the summit threaten to set the climate aside at the meeting. “It is the responsibility of the Pacific to reaffirm the importance of climate change,” Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister Simon Kofe told AFP.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said China needs to be “more transparent” about its agreement with the Solomon Islands. The United States and its allies are concerned that China is using security aid to develop military bases in the Pacific Islands. Ardern expressed “deep concern” about any move that caused “militization of our region.” – AFP

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