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Iran Press TV

US to renew pact with Pacific islands to counter China: Pompeo

Iran Press TV

Mon Aug 5, 2019 06:03PM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says negotiations have begun with three island nations in the Pacific Ocean to renew an agreement that would help Washington counter China's growing influence in the region.

Pompeo, made the comments on Monday after meeting the leaders of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

"Today, I am here to confirm the United States will help you protect your sovereignty, your security, your right to live in freedom and peace," Pompeo told reporters in Pohnpei State, one of four members of the Federated States of Micronesia, also known simply as Micronesia.

"I'm pleased to announce the United States has begun negotiations on extending our compacts.... they sustain democracy in the face of Chinese efforts to redraw the Pacific," the top US diplomat added.

Pompeo is the first US Secretary of State to visit Micronesia. The three tiny Pacific nations have gained greater strategic significance in recent years due a push by China into the region.

Pompeo and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with their Australian counterparts in Sydney on Sunday at an annual security forum where the the two countries pledged to strengthen opposition to Chinese activities in the Pacific.

"We also stand firmly against a disturbing pattern of aggressive behavior, destabilizing behavior from China," Esper told reporters in Sydney on his first overseas trip as US defense secretary

"This includes weaponizing the global commons, using predatory economics and debt for sovereignty deals, and promoting state-sponsored theft of other nations' intellectual property," the Pentagon chief said.

The comments threaten to inflame already heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing as they wage an escalating trade war.

US President Donald Trump on Thursday slapped 10 percent tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese imports, and said he could raise duties further if China's President Xi Jinping failed to move more quickly towards a trade deal.

Trump had already imposed 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The announcement extends US tariffs to nearly all imported Chinese products. China on Friday vowed to fight back against Trump's decision, a move that ended a month-long trade truce.

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