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US passes legislation to fund 3 Pacific island nations, gets exclusive military access in return

The US Congress has passed legislation to fund agreements with Pacific Island nations that will allow the US exclusive military access to Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federal Republic of Micronesia.

The US Senate has passed legislation to fund the Compact of Free Association (Cofa) to the tune of $7.1 billion over 20 years.

The US, in exchange for economic support for these regions, will get exclusive military access to Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated Republic of Micronesia, as the island nations are vital bases for deploying missiles and early warning radars.

Consequently, the US military capability would gain critical access to operations in the Indo-Pacific and tackle the “tyranny of distance,” as the Pentagon calls it.

“Our network of partners and allies – including these three island nations in the Pacific – are among our county’s greatest comparative strengths relative to the dictatorships in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran,” Senator Dan Sullivan told the Financial Times.

Besides, such a manoeuvre is also some relief for the Indo-Pacific region after the delays intensified China’s efforts to dominate the region.

Last month, the US warned Pacific Island countries against assistance from Chinese security forces after Reuters reported that Chinese police were operating in the remote atoll nation of Kiribati, neighbouring Hawaii.

“We are concerned about the potential implications security agreements and security-related cyber cooperation with the PRC may have for any Pacific Island nation’s autonomy,” a US State Department spokesperson said.

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