American World War II Base to Be Rebuilt

CANBERRA, Australia—Australia will redevelop a South Pacific naval base, used by the U.S. as a World War II launchpad, at a time when China's regional presence is becoming more visible.

Australia and Papua New Guinea agreed on Thursday to upgrade the Lombrum Naval Base on Manus Island, to Australia's north. It is a move likely to give U.S. and Australian forces greater access to a port in the South Pacific and to the southern approaches to the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

“I want to strengthen our engagement with the Pacific for the Pacific's sake, because this is our home,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. His comments were made in a speech coinciding with a visit to the country by one of America's top naval officers, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, to discuss strategic rivalry in the region.

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