In a continuing effort to enhance its cooperation with the islands of the South Pacific region, the United States sent a strong delegation to the Pacific Islands Forum in Auckland, New Zealand, which met in early September. The group included senior officials from the White House, Departments of State, Defense, Commerce, the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, the Coast Guard, and the Peace Corps.
Today, as the region faces the challenges of the 21st century, the United States is committed to engaging closely with friends and partners in all areas - diplomatic, defense, and development – to meet those challenges.
The United States has vowed to work more closely with vulnerable Pacific nations as they battle rising seas and crop destruction caused by climate change. Today, the United States supports programs across the region on weather services and disaster preparedness, coral reef and marine conservation, invasive species, pollution and waste, and forests.
Also, the U.S. Agency for International Development office will open a regional office in Papua New Guinea this year to administer $21 million over two years to assist islands coping with the effects of climate change. The new office will also oversee USAID’s ongoing HIV/AIDs program in Papua New Guinea.
We are working together to enhance maritime security and maritime domain awareness, which are critical to combating piracy, illegal fishing, and transnational crime in the Pacific. As well, the U.S. Coast Guard is partnering with eight Pacific Island countries to extend the reach of law enforcement.
To improve food security, the U.S. Department of State, USAID and the New Zealand Aid Program have begun work on a collaborative assessment of agricultural policy constraints in Papua New Guinea affecting food security. The results will indicate what kinds of reforms are needed to improve the agriculture and agribusiness sectors.
The countries of the Pacific are important to the United States. We will continue to identify new and better opportunities to increase our engagement with the governments and peoples of the Pacific, and will work together to craft effective policies and programs to meet the mutual needs of the United States and the countries of the Pacific.