US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the start of negotiations with the three Pacific island states on extension of a national security agreement that could aid Washington to counteract China’s raising influence in the region.
In accord with the terms of the agreement, the Compact of Free Association, the US Armed Forces can examine the airspace and territorial waters of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. In this case, the Island States gets financial assistance.
“Today, I am here to confirm the United States will help you protect your sovereignty, your security, your right to live in freedom and peace,” said, adding that the US support “democracy in the face of Chinese efforts to redraw the Pacific.”
Although three Pacific states have recently acquired great strategic importance according to the growing role of China in the region, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called China’s policy “aggressive” and “destabilizing.”
The agreement expires in 2024, and if it is not extended on time, this may give China opportunity to maneuver.
“Federated States of Micronesia form part of the second island chain that China sees as a way of containing their strategic ambitions,” said Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands program at the Lowy Institute.
Natalia Veselnitskaya – official website