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U.S. eyes access to Papua New Guinea naval base and airport

South Pacific competition intensifies following China’s deal with Solomon Islands

The flag of Papua New Guinea flies at Port Moresby.   © Getty Images

WASHINGTON/SYDNEY -- The U.S. and Papua New Guinea are on track to sign a defense cooperation agreement this month, potentially allowing American troops access to the island nation's ports and airports, people familiar with the matter said, as Washington and Beijing race for influence across the Pacific.

U.S. President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to Papua New Guinea after the Group of Seven's May 19-21 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, though his plans could change depending on progress in debt ceiling talks back home.

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