Senior Trump administration officials told reporters Monday that they don’t expect China tension or extending U.S. financial aid to be major topics of conversation during a historic meeting planned with the heads of three Pacific nations this week.
President Donald Trump plans to meet with the presidents of Palau, the Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia on Tuesday. It’s the first time that a U.S. president will meet with all of the leaders of the three countries. They have special defense treaties with the U.S. that allow the U.S. military to control their surrounding waters and airspace.
The White House held an on-background phone call with reporters Monday to discuss the visit.
The officials said Trump is looking forward to discussing countering illegal fishing, transnational crimes and trafficking and protecting sovereignty as part of a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The officials said the U.S. is looking to continue assisting the Pacific nations in strengthening resilience to natural disasters, rising sea levels, soil erosion, invasive species and other threats.
They said discussing China is not the purpose of the meeting, even though China’s overtures in the region are widely believed to have helped prompt Trump’s invitation.
They also told reporters they don’t expect extending U.S. funding to be a major topic of conversation, despite concerns in the region about the impending expiration of funds and potential economic impact.