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The US has launched a co-operation pact with dozens of countries touching the Atlantic Ocean in Europe, Africa and the Americas, as Washington seeks to ramp up economic, environmental and scientific ties across the region.
The “Partnership for Atlantic Cooperation” was agreed on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meetings in New York, on the eve of US president Joe Biden’s speech to the global body set for Tuesday.
The move comes as the White House tries to improve relations with developing countries and rally financial support for them, in an effort to offer a more viable alternative to China’s growing global economic clout and infrastructure investments.
It also comes in the wake of criticism from some countries that the US has been disproportionately focused — both economically and strategically — on supporting Ukraine compared with countries in the “global south” that have faced huge challenges from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change, high interest rates and international debt.
The Atlantic pact does not have a security or military component so it is not intended as a complement or addition to Nato, which encompasses north Atlantic and European nations. But it does include a pledge to ensure Atlantic countries are “free from interference, coercion, or aggressive action” and will ensure “sovereign equality, territorial integrity, and political independence”.
One senior Biden administration official said the idea of boosting co-operation among Atlantic littoral countries predated Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and reflected a recognition that countries in the north and south Atlantic had for too long been treated as “separate entities”.
The partnership, which will be co-ordinated by the foreign ministries of the countries involved, will allow them to better tackle common “transnational” problems, the US official said. Among them are illegal fishing, natural disasters, and illicit trafficking, according to a White House fact sheet accompanying the announcement.