The President of the United States of America, Joe Biden says he is working with Congress to invest US$40 million in the Pacific Islands Infrastructure Initiative.
Biden had mistakenly said US$40 billion while addressing the U.S.Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting at the Whitehouse in Washington DC, which was also attended by Fijian Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka.
Biden told the Pacific Islands Forum leaders that the US will include investments in digital connectivity through the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, and they are also working to launch a new microfinance facility in the Pacific to expand access to finances for small business.
He says they have signed a new 10-year US$600 million agreement to support the sustainable development of the Pacific Island fisheries, as he pledged to the Pacific leaders last year.
Biden says the United States is committed to ensuring an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, prosperous, and secure.
He says the US is committed to working with all the nations in the Pacific to achieve that goal.
Biden says this year, they will send the first U.S. Coast Guard vessel solely dedicated to collaborate and train with Pacific Island nations, and they intend to invest more than US$11 million in bringing cutting-edge maritime domain awareness technology to the region.
He also says in consultation with the Congress, they are launching US$200 million in new proposals. Biden also says the United States has delivered on the promises they made last year to, open new embassies in Tonga and the Solomon Islands, establish a USAID mission in Fiji, and return the Peace Corps to Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
He also says he is proud to announce that America is going to double the number of academic exchanges of Pacific Island students, beginning this year.
Biden also stresses that the people of the United States and around the world hear the people of the Pacific, and hear the warnings of a rising sea and that they pose an existential threat to the Pacific nations.
He says the United States is making it clear that this is their position as well, and alongside their partners in the Blue Pacific, they are increasing climate assistance, including more than US$20 million for new investments to prepare for climate and natural hazards.
Pacific Islands Leaders Forum Chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister, Mark Brown says we have an opportunity here, as the Pacific Islands Forum and as the United States, to develop our partnerships for prosperity.
He says in a few weeks, he will host the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting, where they will endorse the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan.
Brown says this is a plan by the Pacific and for the Pacific that will ensure the security and prosperity of all Pacific people to lead free, healthy, and productive lives, a plan that requires international partnerships to succeed and can serve as a cornerstone of the U.S.-Pacific framework for future cooperation.
Brown says for the Pacific, access to development and climate finance — which, in the Pacific context, is exactly the same thing — is the only way to achieve meaningful change at the grassroots level and at the national level.
He says their strategy calls for more engaged and effective partner coordination.
Brown strongly encouraged the U.S., as a critical founding dialogue partner, to actively engage at the highest level in the upcoming Forum Dialogue Partners meeting in Rarotonga this year, and that engagement cannot be restricted to annual summits.
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