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Pacific Islands Forum – U.S. Engagement in the Pacific Islands
The U.S. and Kiribati signed a treaty of friendship in 1979, following Kiribati's independence from the United Kingdom. Full diplomatic relations were established in 1980. The U.S. and Kiribati have enjoyed a close relationship based on mutual respect and shared interests. The two countries work closely together on a broad range of issues, from strengthening regional security, to promoting sustainable development and addressing climate change, to protecting fisheries and the environment. The U.S. has no consular or diplomatic facilities in the country. Officers of the U.S. Embassy in Fiji are concurrently accredited to Kiribati and make regular visits. In November 2018, the U.S. and Kiribati will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle of Tarawa, one of the bloodiest of the Pacific Theater, and the two countries actively cooperate in the repatriation of remains of U.S. Marines fallen in that battle.
U.S. Assistance to Kiribati
USAID funds regional projects assisting communities in accessing financing, building institutional capacity, and adapting to climate change. The Ready project (2016-2021) supports climate finance and management capacity. With the Pacific Community (SPC), the Institutional Strengthening in Pacific Island Countries to Adapt to Climate Change project (ISACC, 2015-2020) is undertaking climate finance assessments and supporting scale up of successful multi-sectoral projects. The Pacific American Climate Fund (PACAM, 2013-2019) builds the capacity of small local grantees to adapt to climate change while supporting their efforts to improve water supply and management. The U.S. is a major financial contributor to international and regional organizations that assist Kiribati, including the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, to which the U.S., together with Japan, is the largest contributor; UN Children's Fund; World Health Organization; and UN Fund for Population Activities,.
Bilateral Economic Relations
U.S. trade with Kiribati is limited. Kiribati is a party to the U.S.-Pacific Islands Multilateral Tuna Fisheries Treaty, which provides access to U.S. fishing vessels in exchange for a license fee paid by U.S. industry. Under a separate Economic Assistance Agreement associated with the Treaty, the U.S. government currently provides $21 million per year to Pacific Island parties. The majority of U.S. tourists to Kiribati visit Christmas Island (Kiritimati) in the Line Islands on fishing and diving vacations.