Leaders of the Pacific island nations will meet United States President Joe Biden and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at different times in Port Moresby, says Prime Minister James Marape.
“There will be no overlap of the two meetings,” Marape said.
“The two meetings will happen in two different time slots – between Indian PM Narendra Modi’s arrival on 21 May and the morning of 22 Mayfor the FIPIC (Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation) meeting, then the U.S-Pacific meeting will take place,” he said.
The 14 Pacific island nations are Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands (current Pacific Island Forum chair), Kiribati, Marshal Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Niue, Samoa, Palau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Papua New Guinea.
The forum between India and 14 Pacific island countries began in 2014, with India offering assistance to major projects.
They included the setting up of a US$1 million (about K3 million) funding for adapting to climate change and clean energy, establishing a trade office in India, a Pan Pacific Islands e-network to improve digital connectivity, extending visa-on-arrival at Indian airports for the 14 countries, cooperation in space technology applications for improving the quality of life of the islands, and training diplomats from Pacific Island countries.
India also increased the annual grant-in-aid from US$125,000 to US$200,000 to each of the Pacific island countries for community projects of their choice.
The first FIPIC summit was held in Fiji and the second one in Jaipur.
The 14 Pacific leaders will start arriving next week.
Modi will arrive on Sunday, 21 May. Biden will arrive on Monday, 22 May and spend around three hours in Port Moresby.
Marape said that both meetings were important to bring countries to work together.
Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea will be the focus of three regions of the world when leaders from the United States, India and the Pacific meet in Port Moresby this month.
The White House confirmed on Tuesday that President Joe Biden will visit Papua New Guinea on 22 May, a “historic” first trip for a sitting U.S president, as Washington vies with Beijing for influence in the region.
Cabinet also to discuss the country’s agenda for the two meetings – the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation and the U.S-Pacific from 22 – 24 May.
Biden will also meet with Pacific Island leaders as he seeks to deepen cooperation on issues “such as combating climate change, protecting maritime resources, and advancing resilient and inclusive economic growth,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden’s trip may also put the finishing touches on a U.S-Papua New Guinea Defence Cooperation Agreement that would allow more joint training and the development of security infrastructure.
Washington is working to establish a joint naval facility at Lombrum on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. The trip will come as Biden travels from the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan to the Quad Leaders’ summit in Sydney, Australia this month.
The South Pacific was seen as a relative diplomatic backwater after World War II, but it is an increasingly important arena for powers to compete for commercial, political and military influence – and could prove vital in any possible military conflagration over Taiwan.
Last month, Foreign Minister Justin Tkatchenko told a news conference that Biden would attend bilateral talks with his hosts and is “also having a meeting with the 18 Pacific Island leaders”.
The Pacific Island Forum is a regional bloc of mostly small states scattered across the vast swath of ocean.
The prime ministers of Australia and New Zealand will also attend.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS