The United States (U.S.) is seeking to expedite the process of diplomatic presence and the establishment of its Embassy to Vanuatu as soon as possible.
Kurt Campbell, Deputy Assistant to the United States President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, confirmed this yesterday during a press conference held at the Peace Corps Office in Port Vila.
Mr. Campbell said the U.S. recognises that the needs in the Pacific have ranked up due to climate change and other issues that requires the attention of partners in the West.
He said they are going to take the necessary steps to invest in key abilities that will allow for volunteers to return back in the very near term.
“We are determined to take the necessary steps to step up our own game, we recognised that there have been periods where we have not been as deeply engage as we should have, giving the strong historical moral,” he said.
“We have our advance team coming almost immediately to start scouting and to take the necessary steps, if we have a way it would be tomorrow. But there are some initial steps that we have to take with respect to the impropriate properties, security and alike.
“There is a degree of strategic competition in the Pacific, but we do not seek a new cold war, we do not seek confrontation. Our role is to address the specific, urgent needs of the people in the Islands.”
Mr. Campbell also stated that the desire is so great and they are more excited to come to Vanuatu to visit and engage with Vanuatu’s leaders.
When asked if their return to Vanuatu was because of much influence of China in the Pacific, he responded that China has been an active player in the Pacific for a long time so as many other countries.
He went on to say not only the U.S. would want to step up their game, but they also want to make sure other countries who have an interest in the Pacific, both traditional players like Australia and New Zealand, but new players like South Korea, take the necessary steps to support engagement across the Blue Pacific.
Rear Admiral Michael Day, Commander of the Fourteenth Coast Guard District, was among the high delegation seeking to deepen the bilateral relationship between the United States and Vanuatu.
He is looking for to establish a deeper tie or renewing efforts associated with their shiprider agreements, which was signed in 2016.
According to Mr. Campbell, there are number of steps that they would like to take to address the specific needs of the people of Vanuatu in the Pacific, which includes climate change, illegal fishing, educational links, opportunities for more investment and infrastructure.
Joseph Zadrozny, United States Chargé d’Affaires, a.i, who looks after the U.S. Embassy to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, announced a program called the Open World Program during the press conference.
The Program is sponsored by the legislative representatives, congress, and the office of international leadership.
“Five Members of the Vanuatu Parliament will be invited later this year to come to Washington for an exchange program and be able to learn about how our government works, be able to exchange views and understand each other and learn about different priorities and ways to work and collaborate on our legislative level between the congress and the parliament,” he said.
The U.S. and Vanuatu established diplomatic relations in 1986, six years after Vanuatu’s independence from France and the United Kingdom.
Peace Corps maintains a country office in Port Vila, Vanuatu and in 2016 the United States and Vanuatu inked a historic law enforcement agreement in order to reduce Illicit, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and strengthen maritime law enforcement. This agreement includes a shiprider agreement.
The U.S. and Vanuatu share a commitment to strengthening democracy, enhancing security, and promoting development. U.S. military ships regularly call on ports in Vanuatu to engage in training and exchanges with the Vanuatu Police Force.
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