The resilience of this partnership was underscored with the announcement that the US will join Australia in expanding a deep-water naval base on Manus Island into a key staging point in Asia.
As part of an agreement signed with Papua New Guinea, the Lombrum naval base will be extended in order to accommodate Australian and US naval ships.
This measure comes as Australia, China and the US are all contesting for significance in the Pacific and PNG.
As the Chinese military presence grows, the Lombrum base will be beneficial to the US as it provides them with another deep-water port close to the South China. One analyst has said that this base will be able to drive US forces further south than they had been in decades into the Pacific.
US Vice President announces their participation
Even though Australia has been working with PNG on the facility for quite some time, US Vice President Mike Pence announced their participation on Saturday at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting during his speech.
Mr Pence stated ‘Today it is my privilege to announce that the US will partner with PNG and Australia on their joint initiative on Manus Island’.
How many Australian ships and how much is being spent for the base, is still buttoned up.
Prime Minster Scott Morrison said to reporters in PNG that ‘All the details we’ll be working through in the time ahead and the investments that we’re making’.
‘But the key thing here is the PNG government has invited us to participate at Manus Island in the Lombrum initiative and they’ve invited the United States to do the same thing, and so we’re pleased to be working together.’
According to AAP, defence officials have said that they have been brainstorming ways to increase the deep-water port facility
Lombrum is seen as a possible response to China and their rising influence in the South China Sea, where they have placed military in previous unclaimed islands.
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