SYDNEY - Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape was scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday in Beijing, his office said, before attending this week's Belt and Road Forum.

The Pacific Islands nation, which signed a defence cooperation agreement with the United States in May, said China was a significant infrastructure and roads partner.

A resource-rich but underdeveloped nation north of Australia, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is seeking greater foreign investment and Asian customers for a new gas project.

Marape met with China's Premier Li Qiang on Monday, and will hold bilateral talks with Xi, a PNG government statement said.

China has since become a significant infrastructure lender to Pacific Islands nations, emerging as the largest creditor to several countries in the region, prompting Australia and the United States to boost aid and diplomacy in the region.

Fiji's deputy prime minister Bill Gavoka is also attending the forum in Beijing, while Fiji's Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka visits Australia.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; editing by Miral Fahmy)