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"We welcome India's engagement in the region," US envoy for Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island Affairs

Washington: The US Department of State Director, Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Affairs, Taylor Ruggles on Wednesday (local time) welcomed India's growing engagement with Papua New Guinea.
Ruggles said, "We welcome India's engagement in the region. Broadly speaking. India is not a member of the Partners in Blue Pacific (PBP), but it is an observer. So, part of the way that we have worked with other like-minded countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, and now, Canada Germany, as well, have defined ways that we can leverage our combined efforts to respond to Pacific Island needs."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Indo-Pacific Island Papua New Guinea and co-chaired the third summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIF).
The US and its allies, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and the United Kingdom, June 2022 launched the Partners in the Blue Pacific initiative for effective and efficient cooperation with the region's small island nations in response to China's aggressive push to expand its sphere of influence in the Pacific.
After China pushed for a broad, common cooperation pact with 10 Pacific states, it became obvious the planned extent of its expanding influence and the geostrategic competition in the region increased.
Calling India a close club partner, along with Australia and Japan, Ruggles said that they are working very actively in together engaging in the region.
PM Modi reached Papua New Guinea on May 21 at the Port Moresby airport. Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape touched PM Modi's feet and sought his blessings.
This was PM Modi's first tour to PNG, as well as the first-ever visit by any Indian Prime Minister to the Indo-Pacific country.
While addressing the third FIPIF Summit, announced a 12-step programme to propel India's partnerships with Pacific Island countries.
Taking to Twitter, the MEA Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi listed out all the 12 steps announced by PM Modi. The first of the announcements include opening up a new 100-bed regional super speciality hospital in Fiji and setting up a Regional IT and Cyber Security Training Hub in Papua New Guinea.
"Sagar Amrut Scholarships -1000 scholarships in the next 5 years, Jaipur Foot Camp in Papua New Guinea in 2023. Thereafter, two camps annually in other Pacific Island Countries," Bagchi said.
"FIPIC SME Development Project, Solar project for Government buildings, Provide desalination units for drinking water, Supply sea ambulances, Set up dialysis units, Set up of 24x7 emergency helpline, Set up of Jan Aushadi Kendras, Set up Yoga centres," he added.
The five-nation informal framework, the PBP aims to support Pacific islands and strengthen regional political and economic ties. It calls for further cooperation to improve "prosperity, resilience, and security" in the Pacific. It simply means that these nations will contribute more resources through the PBP, both collectively and individually, to block China's aggressive outreach.
Members of the initiative have also promised to strengthen ties with the Pacific Islands Forum and promote regionalism in the Pacific. (ANI)

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