U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt has ended his trip to Tuvalu, where he led a group of U.S. officials to the Pacific Island Forum in on Aug. 16 and met with leaders of Pacific island nations, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Interior released Monday.

“The United States is a Pacific nation, and our country has a deep and longstanding commitment to the future security, prosperity, and well-being of the region,” Bernhardt said in a statement. In Tuvalu, Bernhardt met with political leaders and delegations from New Zealand, Tuvalu, Fiji, Republic of Palau, Japan, the Federated States of Micornesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Bernhardt’s visit is the latest example of President Donald Trump’s efforts to strengthen ties in the Pacific region, where China has been making diplomatic inroads.

In May, Trump met with the presidents of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Republic of Palau and Federated State of Micronesia, a historic meeting with nations that have a unique strategic agreements with the U.S. The U.S. is in the process of renegotiating those agreements which give the U.S. military control over the island nations’ airspace and surrounding waters.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command announced a plan to coordinate health care services in the region which is sorely lacking.

“On the way to Tuvalu, Secretary Bernhardt also stopped in Hawaii at Indo-Pacific Command, underscoring the fact that the Pacific Islands are key to the President’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the press release from the Department of Interior continued. “The United States is engaged and committed to advancing a regional order based on respect for sovereignty and the rule of law.”

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