May 02, 2022 12:57 UTC
  • US Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell
    US Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell

In a bid to ramp up diplomatic engagement with Pacific Island countries, Washington is set to host leaders from the region later this year, a senior US government official has said.

Kurt Campbell, who serves as coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the US National Security Council, made the announcement at a US-New Zealand business summit on Monday, amid rising tensions with China.

Campbell told attendees at the summit that besides hosting island leaders, the Biden administration also intended to step up diplomatic ties with Pacific countries that had not seen ambassadors or engagement for decades.

“For the United States to be effective in the Pacific we must do more, and we must do more on areas that matter and are of significance to the Pacific Islanders,” he said.

Campbell said the Biden administration would also engage with US AID and the new US International Development Finance Corporation to fund projects in the region.

He also said that the US is set to revive the Pacific Islands Forum, from which several members including Micronesian countries left following a disagreement over leadership.

“I think there is an understanding that the challenges that are presenting themselves on the global stage are not so distant - they're closer and they have direct implications,” the US official said.

In March, China had said that the “real goal” of the US in the Indo-Pacific region was to establish a NATO-like military alliance.

“The perverse actions run counter to the common aspiration of the region for peace, development, cooperation,, and win-win outcomes,” China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, stressing that “they are doomed to fail.”