The United States, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom launched an informal group aimed at boosting economic and diplomatic ties with Pacific island nations, the White House said on Friday.
The Biden administration has vowed to commit more resources to the Indo-Pacific as China seeks to boost economic, military and police links with Pacific island nations hungry for foreign investment.
The group, dubbed Partners in the Blue Pacific (PBP), will seek to support Pacific regionalism and strengthen economic ties between the Pacific islands and the rest of the world.
"We are united in our shared determination to support a region that benefits the peoples of the Pacific. We are also united in how we realize this vision -- according to principles of Pacific regionalism, sovereignty, transparency, accountability, and most of all, led and guided by the Pacific Islands," the White House said.
White House Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell said on Thursday he expects more high-level US officials to visit Pacific island countries as Washington steps up its engagement to counter China in the strategically important region.
Campbell said the United States needed more diplomatic facilities across the region, and more contact with Pacific island countries that at times "receive lesser attention."