8 Jun 2011

Academic says stemming Melanesia-Polynesia divide a huge priority for US

1:35 pm on 8 June 2011

A strategic and defence studies specialist says stemming the growing divide between Melanesia and Polynesia is a huge priority for the United States and its regional partners.

Matthew Hill, who's a visiting fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University, says the US is closely watching Melanesia's efforts to create its own identity within the region, in line with its growing economic links with Asia.

Mr Hill says there's not only concern this divide complicates the operating of the Pacific Islands Forum.

"It's aware of it not particularly in a strictly military sense but it is aware of the fact that this is an area which China is gaining ground upon and where the domestic influences within those countries are perhaps trending away from stability."

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Matthew Hill says the United States renewed interest in the region has huge potential economic benefits for the region.