White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell says he expects to see more U.S. cabinet-level officials visit Pacific island nations as the United States steps up its engagement in the region to counter China.
- Kurt Campbell says US needs more diplomatic facilities in the Pacific
- He said more senior officials would visit the region in the future
- Joe Biden’s administration has pledged to commit more resources to the Pacific as China increases its presence
Speaking at a Center for Strategic and International Studies event in Washington, Campbell said the United States needed more diplomatic facilities in the region and more contact with the island nations of the Pacific which “sometimes receive less attention”.
“And I think you’ll see more senior cabinet-level officials going to the Pacific as we move forward. So, again, direct engagement – recognizing that nothing really replaces diplomatic boots in the field,” said Mr. Campbell.
US President Joe Biden’s administration has pledged to commit more resources to the Indo-Pacific as China has strengthened economic, military and police ties with strategically important Pacific island nations hungry for investment. strangers.
Beijing’s growing influence has been underscored by its security pact with the Solomon Islands this year, a move that has stoked concerns in Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
“Sovereignty is essential in our overall vision of the Pacific. Any initiative that compromises or challenges that sovereignty, I think we would have concerns,” Campbell said, without referring to China.
Washington has said it will expedite the opening of an embassy in the Solomon Islands, announced earlier this year when Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Fiji, the first trip there by America’s top diplomat in four decades.
Mr Campbell said he envisions Fiji to be one of the “hubs” of US engagement.
“I just want to emphasize that our mantra will be nothing in the Pacific without the Pacific,” Campbell said, acknowledging perceptions that the United States had not always sufficiently considered the needs of islanders in the past. .
“We don’t take these obligations for granted.”