BANGKOK — The United States has signed a new agreement with Palau, which gives American ships the authorization to unilaterally enforce maritime regulations in the tiny Pacific island nation's exclusive economic zone, the U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday.
The agreement comes as both the U.S. and China are seeking to expand their influence in the Pacific, and follows pleas from Palau's president for Washington's help to deter Beijing's “unwanted activities” in its coastal waters.
In the agreement, concluded a week ago, U.S. Coast Guard ships can enforce regulations inside Palau's exclusive economic zone on behalf of the nation without a Palauan officer present, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
“This agreement helps Palau monitor our exclusive economic zone, protect against Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and deter uninvited vessels from conducting questionable maneuvers within our waters,” Palau's president, Surangel S. Whipps Jr., was quoted as saying in the release.
“It's these types of partnerships that help us work toward our common goal of peace and prosperity in the region.”
The statement made no mention of China, but in June, Whipps told reporters in Tokyo that three Chinese boats had made “uninvited” entries into his country's waters since he took office in 2021, and stressed at the time the need for further U.S. backing to enhance deterrence against China's assertive moves in…