US pledges to help Aust build naval base

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THE United States will partner with Australia to develop the naval base at Lombrun on Manus island, says Vice-President Mike Pence.
“It’s my privilege to announce that the United States will partner with Papua New Guinea and Australia on their joint initiative at the Lombrum naval base on Manus Island,” he said.
“We will work with these nations to protect sovereignty and maritime rights of the Pacific Islands as
well.”
The joint facility had earlier been discussed between prime ministers Scott Morrison (Australia) and Peter O’Neill (Papua New Guinea).
Pence revealed the plan during the Apec Chief Executive Officers Summit on Saturday.
He said the United States’ commitment to the Indo-Pacific region had never been stronger.
“Two-thirds of global trade happens here, and its economic
potential and strategic importance are only growing by the day,” he said.
“Over the past two years, American businesses have announced more than 1500 new projects and more than US$61 billion (K205 billion) in new investments across this region.
“The United States’ total investment in the Indo-Pacific is now more than US$1.4 trillion (K4.7 trillion).”
He said the United States was promoting private investment in the Indo-Pacific “as never before”.
“As we stand here today, American companies are hiring and training your workers, holding themselves to the highest standards,” Pence said.
“And you need look no further than Papua New Guinea for proof of the critical importance and benefits of American investment.
“Take one example: ExxonMobil has already invested more than US$19 billion (around K57 billion) in this nation, building more than 450 miles of pipeline (PNG LNG).”
He also warned countries in the region not to accept foreign debt that could compromise their sovereignty.
“Protect your interests,” Pence said.
“Preserve your independence.”

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