To Counter China, U.S. Names Envoy For Pacific Island Talks
The talks include U.S. economic assistance for the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.
The United States on Tuesday named former senior diplomat Joseph Yun to lead languishing talks with three tiny but strategically important Pacific Island countries, a signal that countering China remains a U.S. priority despite Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The State Department confirmed the appointment of Yun, who served as U.S. special envoy for North Korea under former U.S. presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, in response to queries from media.
In light of the critical nature of these complex negotiations, President Biden is appointing Ambassador Joseph Yun as Special Presidential Envoy for Compact Negotiations, a statement from the department said.
We are currently engaged in negotiating amendments to certain provisions of the Compacts of Free Association with the FAS, and completing the negotiations is a priority for this Administration, the statement said, referring to the islands collectively called the Freely Associated States.
Provisions in the compacts are set to expire in 2023 for the first countries and in 2024 for Palau. Renewal talks began during the Trump administration, but sources familiar with the process say there have been no substantive engagements with U.S. officials since December 2020.
Communist China, meanwhile, has made economic overtures to the Pacific Islands countries focusing on tourism and trade and appears keen to establish a military foothold in the region.