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Kiribati Foreign Relations

Kiribati is conducting an active foreign policy and taking an active part in regional organizations. In August of 1985, Kiribati, together with 10 states and 2 territories was one of the first to sign the agreement to make the South Pacific a nuclear-free zone at the meeting of the South Pacific Forum. The decision of the forum was applauded by progressive forces throughout the world.

Kiribati became a member of the United Nations in 1999, and in September 2003, President Tong requested authority from Parliament to establish a UN mission. Currently, however, Kiribati does not maintain a resident ambassador in New York, and its vote is typically cast by New Zealand in a proxy arrangement. Kiribati also is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, Asian Development Bank, the Commonwealth, International Monetary Fund, the Pacific Community, and the World Bank. Kiribati is particularly active in the Pacific Islands Forum. The only Kiribati diplomatic missions overseas are a high commission in Fiji and an honorary consulate in Honolulu.

Kiribati maintains friendly relations with most countries and has particularly close ties to its Pacific neighbors - Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, and Cuba maintain resident diplomatic missions in Kiribati.

Multiple air-control centers covered portions of the vast Kiribati EEZ. The Fiji center controlled most air space over the Gilbert Islands group; and the FAA Oakland center controls most airspace over the Phoenix and Line Islands groups. Kiribati needs funding sources. It believed the Fiji center should share revenues, but Fiji refused to do so. Reportedly Australia and New Zealand have said that, if Kiribati can obtain the air-control rights in Fiji's hands, Australia and New Zealand would be willing to do the controlling, with the revenues flowing to Kiribati.

Relations between Kiribati and the United States are excellent. Kiribati signed a treaty of friendship with the United States after independence in 1979. In 2008, the United States and Kiribati signed a cooperative maritime enforcement agreement, or ship rider agreement, allowing I-Kiribati law enforcement officers to embark on select U.S. Coast Guard vessels and aircraft to patrol their waters. The United States has no consular or diplomatic facilities in the country. Officers of the American Embassy in Suva, Fiji, are concurrently accredited to Kiribati and make periodic visits. The U.S. Peace Corps maintained a program in Kiribati from 1967 until mid-2008.

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