(Port Moresby) Joe Biden will become the first sitting US president in at least a century to visit Papua New Guinea for a brief but symbolic trip, the archipelago’s foreign minister announced Thursday. Oceania.

“He will come on May 22, in the morning, and will only stay for three hours,” said Justin Tkatchenko, adding that the discussions should focus on the economy, security and climate change.

The US President plans to stop in Port Moresby in May, on the sidelines of his trips to Japan for the G7 Summit and a visit to Sydney with the informal alliance called “Quad”, which he forms with Japan, Australia and India,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

This presidential visit bears witness to the growing strategic importance of Papua New Guinea, in a region where China is increasingly asserting itself.

In 2018, President Xi Jinping visited Port Moresby with great fanfare, Chinese flags were hoisted in the capital and a large motorcade gathered crowds.

This trip had been seen as a major diplomatic coup for Beijing.

US and Australian officials are concerned about the rapid increase in Chinese investment in resource-rich Papua New Guinea.

Several US Secretaries of State have made the trip to the sovereign state in the past, including Hillary Clinton. Former Vice President Mike Pence visited there in 2018.

But according to State Department records, which date back to Theodore Roosevelt’s administration in 1901, no sitting US president has ever visited Papua New Guinea.