Samoa declares support of the 11-point declaration of between US and the Pacific

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Samoa has thrown its support of an 11-point declaration partnership between the United States and the Pacific.

The declaration is designed to provide a framework for intensified US engagement in the Pacific.

RNZ reports that Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa says the declaration between Pacific countries and the US was “pretty general” and prioritised climate change, which is seen as the region’s biggest security threat.

She said there were also significant discussions about maritime security.

“Not only the protection of the fisheries but also the maritime boundaries,” she said. Fiame also stressed the importance of maintaining peace in the region, and said she would not like to see increased US military presence in the Pacific.

“When you begin to talk about defence, you’re sort of looking at scenarios where other countries or forces will be coming into the Pacific,” she said. “We wouldn’t like to encourage that in any way.”

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands has signalled it will not sign on to the 11-point declaration between the United States and Pacific Island nations this week, dealing a blow to the White House ahead of a high-profile presidential summit with Pacific leaders in Washington.

The ABC has been told that Washington and Pacific Island countries have spent recent weeks negotiating a new joint statement on the partnership between the US and the Pacific states.

Washington is moving to ramp up its diplomatic, development and commercial presence in the region, partly in response to China’s growing influence in several Pacific nations.

Some Pacific leaders have described the declaration as being “similar” in intent to a more sweeping trade and security deal which China unsuccessfully pursued with ten Pacific Island nations in May.

Several Pacific nations are expecting to sign the declaration during the historic meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on 28 and 29 September.

It’s the first time Pacific nations have been invited to Washington for an in-person summit.