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WASHINGTON: Fiji is joining US President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the White House said on Thursday, making it the first Pacific Island country in the plan that is part of a US effort to push back on China’s growing regional influence.

The announcement came as China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi began a sweeping tour of Pacific Island countries – including Fiji – a region that is becoming an increasingly tense front in the competition for influence between Beijing and Washington.

Wang arrived in the region this week seeking a 10-country deal with island nations on security and trade that has unnerved the United States and its Pacific allies.

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