WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to announce the opening of new U.S. embassies on Cook Islands and Niue on Monday as the Democratic administration aims to demonstrate to Pacific Island leaders that it remains committed to increasing American presence in the region.
The announcement about the new diplomatic missions in the South Pacific comes as Biden prepares to welcome leaders to Washington for the two-day U.S.-Pacific Island Forum Summit. Talks are expected to heavily focus on the impact of climate change in the region.
Biden has put a premium on improving relations in the Pacific amid rising U.S. concern about China's growing military and economic influence. Plans about the embassies were confirmed by two senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity before the formal announcement.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden would use the summit to strengthen “ties with the Pacific Islands and discuss how we address complex global challenges, like tackling the existential threat of climate change, advancing economic growth, and promoting sustainable development.”
The leaders were scheduled to be feted on Sunday at a Baltimore Ravens football game and to visit a Coast Guard cutter in Baltimore Harbor for a briefing by the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on combatting illegal fishing and other maritime issues.
Pacific Island leaders have…