US, Papua New Guinea Hold Talks on Military Agreement

The US is expanding military ties in the Asia Pacific as part of its strategy against China

The US and Papua New Guinea just wrapped up talks on signing a military agreement as the Biden administration is looking to expand military ties in the Asia Pacific as part of its strategy against China.

“The United States and Papua New Guinea held negotiations on February 6 – 10 in Honolulu, HI to discuss a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) that would strengthen security cooperation between our two countries,” the State Department said on Saturday.

The State Department said that the negotiators made “substantial progress” on the text of an agreement, signaling a deal could be reached soon.

Map of the region (US Indo-Pacific Command)

“When completed and signed, a US-PNG DCA will be the foundational framework around which our two nations will enhance security cooperation and further strengthen our bilateral relationship, improve the capacity of the PNG Defence Force and increase stability and security in the region,” the State Department said.

Ahead of the talks, PNG Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko said the deal would focus on boosting Papua New Guinea’s military and wouldn’t mean a buildup of US forces in the country. “It’s not a situation in which we will have warships. Yes training is definitely one [part of it], but not building up the US forces here in Papua New Guinea,” he told the Australian broadcaster ABC last month.

Tkachenko said the US was stepping up its engagement in the region after China signed a security deal with the nearby Solomon Islands. “The United States of America have taken a fairly serious role now in the Pacific since China and Solomon Islands have had their agreement, which has created a tsunami throughout the Pacific region and put more concentration on the area,” he said.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape recently said that his country cannot afford to get caught in the middle of the tensions between the US, China, and Australia. “So keep your debates to yourselves and your fights to yourselves. Your enemy is not my enemy, that’s a line that is emerging in the Pacific,” he said in December.

The US-PNG talks are the latest in a series of steps the US has taken to increase its military and diplomatic presence in the region, as outlined by the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy that was released last year. In recent weeks, the US signed a deal to expand its military presence in the Philippines, opened a new base in Guam, announced new military cooperation with Japan, opened an embassy in the Solomon Islands, and worked on agreements with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau to maintain military access.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.