The United States struck three agreements with the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on May 23 to sustain cooperation at "significant levels" amid ongoing rivalry between the U.S. and China in the Pacific region.
Both sides agreed to extend COFA-related assistance "at significant levels that recognize our special relationship, support economic development, bolster resilience to tackle challenges such as climate change," and assist in building a sustainable future.
The agreements encompassed the amendment of the COFA, a new fiscal procedures accord, and a new trust fund agreement. Washington hailed them as "a major milestone" in its relationship with FSM.
"Congressional approval is necessary before the agreements can be brought into force, and we are engaged with Congress on this matter," the State Department said.
Speaking to reporters in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had signed an agreement with Palau and hoped to conclude negotiations with the Marshall Islands soon.
“I just want to stress this point: It wasn’t shoved down on our throat. It wasn’t forced upon us; it was a mutual agreement,” PNG Prime Minister James Marape told reporters.
Micronesia Plays 'Key Role'The United States has sought to boost its engagement in the Pacific region after Beijing signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands last year, which many countries in the region fear could allow Beijing to station troops, weapons, and naval ships on the strategically important island.
He alleged the CCP was attempting to undermine FSM’s sovereignty to ensure that the Pacific nation would side with the CCP or remain neutral in a potential conflict over self-ruled Taiwan.
“We further know that the FSM has a key role to play in either the prevention of such a conflict or participation in allowing it to occur,” Panuelo wrote.
“It is on this basis that Political Warfare and Grey Zone activity occur within our borders; China is seeking to ensure that, in the event of a war in our Blue Pacific Continent between themselves and Taiwan, that the FSM is, at best, aligned with the PRC instead of the United States, and, at worst, that the FSM chooses to abstain altogether," he added.
Panuelo said the CCP’s political warfare in the FSM included overt activity—such as political alliances and economic measures—and covert activity, such as “bribery, psychological warfare, and blackmail.”