The United States will recognize the independence of the Cook Islands and Niue, two small Pacific nations, President Joe Biden said on September 25, confirming an earlier announcement by officials.
Mr. Biden spoke ahead of a summit with Pacific island leaders this week, part of a U.S. charm offensive to block further Chinese inroads into a strategic region Washington has long considered its own backyard.
In a statement, Mr. Biden said the United States had a long history of cooperation with the Cook Islands, dating back to World War II, when the U.S. military built airport runways on one of the chain's atolls.
"Today's announcement will enable us to expand the scope of this enduring partnership as we seek to tackle the challenges that matter most to our peoples' lives," he said.
The White House said the summit will focus on priorities including climate change, economic growth, sustainable development, public health and countering illegal fishing.