A team of 20 American nationals is currently in Port Vila, Vanuatu’s capital, on a mission to identify a site where the American Embassy can be erected.

This move is part of the U.S’ promise to have more diplomatic engagement with Vanuatu, approved by the White House and Congress during the meeting between the President of the United States and leaders of the Pacific region.

Damian Wampler, Pacific Affairs Officer within the Embassy of the United States of America in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, said that the team of experts from the U.S and the U.S Embassy in Port Moresby are currently meeting with landlords and owners to find a suitable building.

“Our goal is to build a diplomatic platform so we can better, more quickly, and more efficiently engage with the government of Vanuatu,” Wampler said.

When asked if the U.S decision to set up an embassy in Vanuatu is in response to China’s growing presence in the region, Wampler said that the U.S has been in Vanuatu since its independence in 1980.

He noted that the joint history of the U.S and Vanuatu began during World War II when the two countries fought together to prevent dictatorship and bring democracy and freedom to the people of Vanuatu and the Pacific.

Wampler explained that after World War II, the U.S supported democracy through multilateral organisations such as the United Nations, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank. Currently, the U.S Embassy in Port Moresby is responsible for Vanuatu, but the U.S is planning to open its embassy in Port Vila to strengthen its engagement with Vanuatu.

“We plan to have an Ambassador here in Vanuatu so we can have better, faster, and deeper engagement with Vanuatu. The American people and the people of Vanuatu share values such as freedom of speech, open trade, and prosperity for all,” Wampler said.

“We want to work together to keep the ocean clean, ensure that forests are here forever, and make sure that Vanuatu is prosperous, secure, and safe so that the Pacific is prosperous, secure, and safe. We share the Pacific with Vanuatu, so opening an Embassy here will help us reach our mutual goals,” he said.