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‘We have let this drift’: US says further work to do after signing Pacific Islands partnership

Ni sa bula vinaka!

The United States has conceded it let its relationship with Pacific Island nations "drift" before reaching an historic new partnership agreement with the region.

US President Joe Biden hosted a dozen Pacific Island leaders in Washington amid increasing US concern about China's growing influence.

The US secured the support of all of those attending for a joint declaration, setting out 11 areas of cooperation, despite Solomon Islands signalling in the lead up to the event that it would not agree.

US State Department counsellor Derek Chollet said the summit was part of a broader effort to ramp up engagement with Pacific Island nations.

"I think we have acknowledged that perhaps over the past years, yes, we have let this drift," he said in an interview with the ABC.

"We see a lot of upside potential with our relationship with the Pacific Islands."

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