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PM Modi and US President Joe Biden Scheduled to Meet in Papua New Guinea Next Month

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will join Pacific Islands leaders for a “historic” meeting in the nation’s capital, Port Moresby, next month, according to an announcement made on Sunday by Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape. Marape referred to it as a “going forward” summit of world powers and a historic first because it would be the first trip by a sitting US President to the 9.4 million-person, resource-rich but largely underdeveloped nation to the north of Australia.

President Xi Jinping visited Papua New Guinea in 2018 as part of China’s diplomatic outreach to the country. After China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands last year, but was unable to reach a larger trade and security agreement with ten Pacific island nations, Washington increased its efforts to counter Beijing’s expanding influence in the region.

Marape has been invited to Beijing this year, and Papua New Guinea is currently negotiating security agreements with both Australia and the United States. Marape emphasised that Papua New Guinea and the Pacific cannot be disregarded in the Indo-Pacific discourse, citing their combined forest and sea regions, which constitute the largest sea and air space on earth and the world’s greatest carbon sink.

The Pacific Islands Forum has 18 nations and territories spread across 30 million square kilometres of water. Its authorities have stated that climate change is their biggest security issue since it would result in more dangerous cyclones and rising sea levels.

On their route to Australia for a May 24 summit of the Quad, which also includes Japan and Australia, Modi and Biden will stop in Papua New Guinea. When the two met in Washington the previous year, Marape said he had invited Biden, and he was “very honoured that he has fulfilled his promise to visit our country.”

Overall, as nations like the United States and China compete for influence in the region, the next gathering in Papua New Guinea highlights the strategic importance of the Pacific region. It also emphasises how important climate change is as a major security issue for Pacific island countries.

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