Biden makes new pledges to Pacific island leaders

President Joe Biden met Pacific island leaders for a second White House summit in just over a year on Monday, part of a charm offensive aimed at curbing further inroads by China into a strategic region Washington has long considered its own backyard.

Before welcoming the Pacific Islands Forum leaders, Biden announced US diplomatic recognition of two more Pacific islands nations, the Cook Islands and Niue.

"The United States is committed to ensuring an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, prosperous, and secure. We're committed to working with all the nations around this table to achieve that goal," Biden said at the welcoming ceremony.

Biden pledged to work with Congress to provide $US200 million more in funding for the region for projects aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change, spurring economic growth, countering illegal fishing and improving public health, the US said in a document issued after a working lunch with the group.

"These new programs and activities continue to demonstrate the US commitment to work together with the Pacific Islands to expand and deepen our cooperation in the years ahead," the document said.

A joint statement said the sides agreed to hold another summit in 2025 and political engagements every two years thereafter.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown and Forum chair called the summit "an opportunity ... to develop our partnerships for prosperity."

He urged Washington "to actively engage at the highest level" in the 52nd PIF leaders meeting he would host in a few weeks to endorse its 2050 Strategy.