India and the US are mulling over plans to team up and deliver development projects in the strategically vital Pacific Islands, according to persons aware of the matter.
This comes as the islands attract increased attention from China given their location along key maritime trade routes and suitability for military power projection. These 14 island-nations include the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Nauru.
The Pacific Islands have typically been close to the US and Australia, but China has emerged a major player as a top lender, trading partner and an increasingly important military power in the region.
Experts suggest the islands could be key locations in case of a military confrontation in the Indo-Pacific.
While India and the US collaborate on development projects across Africa and Southeast Asia, expanded cooperation in the Pacific reflects their increasing strategic value.
The two sides are promoting healthcare in Fiji by exploring collaborations in telemedicine and mental health care. Partnerships with other Pacific Island countries are now expected to expand, the persons cited above said.
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