The Defense Cooperation Agreement the US and Papua New Guinea are set to sign later this month could give the US military access to some of the Pacific Island nation’s ports and airports, Nikkei Asia reported Sunday.
President Biden will become the first sitting president to visit Papua Guinea and is due to arrive on May 22, following the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan. PNG Foreign Minister Justin Tkachenko has said the two nations will sign a DCA during Biden’s visit.
Sources familiar with the DCA negotiations told Nikkei that the deal will be designed to allow US troops to access certain facilities. The report said the US would “preposition materials including equipment, fuel, and spare parts so that they could serve as maintenance and resupply hubs for military aircraft and ships during contingencies” and that additional infrastructure may need to be built.
The US would also conduct joint training and military exercises with Papua New Guinea’s forces. The DCA and overall US engagement with Pacific Island nations is part of a strategy to prepare for a potential future war with China.
Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the US Pacific Air Forces, recently told Nikkei that the idea of expanding in the Pacific is to create more areas China would need to target. “Obviously we would like to disperse in as many places as we can to make the targeting problem for the Chinese as difficult as possible,” he said. “A lot of those runways where we would operate from are in the Pacific Island nations.”