Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) leaders will undertake work to consider the establishment of a permanent PIF Special Envoy Office in the United States.

According to the PIF leaders retreat communique, the leaders are recognising the “increased interest in the Blue Pacific region, including at the United Nations level and with the United States of America, Leaders.”

The leaders said the PIF Secretariat is tasked to coordinate within the United Nations as well as Washington, and report back to Leaders at the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in the Cook Islands.

The U.S is expanding its footprint in the Pacific islands, which is seen as an effort to counter China’s increasing presence in the region.

Earlier, Kiribati, Palau, Nauru, Marshall Islands and Federated States of Micronesia urged a visit by U.S President Joseph R. Biden Jr to the Pacific “sometime in the near future.”

“Presidents welcomed President Biden’s planned visit for Leaders’ Summit in the Pacific Region and expressed their full support and cooperation to ensure the success of this visit,” the five leaders stated in a meeting among Micronesian leaders, days before the Forum meeting.

In the Forum meeting, the leaders of Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. French Polynesia was represented by its Vice President, and New Zealand by its Deputy Prime Minister. Australia and Papua New Guinea also welcomed the return of Kiribati into the Pacific family.

Kiribati last year withdraw from the Forum.