US officials travel to Solomons in protest of China pact concerns

Two top American officials will be sent to Solomon Islands by the United States following concerns raised last week by an Australian senator about China's potential military presence on the South Pacific island nation.

US officials travel to Solomons in protest of China pact concerns

Monday's White House announcement stated that Kurt Campbell (National Security Council Indo-Pacific coordinator) and Daniel Kritenbrink (assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs and Pacific affairs), will lead a delegation consisting of U.S. officials to the Solomons. They will also visit Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji.

This move follows a joint agreement between the Solomons (China ) and a draft of a security accord last month. The Solomons indicated that they would soon sign the final version.

According to the draft, Chinese warships could be stopped in Solomons by Chinese naval vessels. China could also send police and armed forces to that area "to maintain social order."

Although the Solomons attempted to minimize the importance of the agreement, they claim it won't lead China to establish a military base there. However, many countries in the West remain concerned.

Ned Price, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, stated that the agreement could lead to destabilization of the Solomon Islands and set a worrying precedent for the larger Pacific region.

"Despite comments from the Solomon Islands government, the security agreement's broad nature opens the possibility of P.R.C. being deployed to the Solomon Islands," Price said. Price stated that the People's Republic of China (People's Republic of China), military forces could be deployed to the Solomon Islands.

After a visit by Australian Senator Zed Seselja to the Solomons last Wednesday, the minister of international development and the Pacific, the U.S. delegation will be visiting the Solomons again.

Seselja claimed that he met with Manasseh Sogavare, the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, and asked him to end the Chinese agreement.

Seselja stated in a statement that she had asked Solomon Islands to reconsider signing the agreement. She also asked for the Pacific family's support in maintaining regional openness and transparency in accordance with the security frameworks of the region.

The Solomons presented the meeting in a positive light. They said that Sogavare was productively discussing security concerns for the Solomon Islands and wider Pacific region.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman talked to Jeremiah Manele, Solomon Islands Foreign Minister, about Washington's plans to reopen the Honiara capital embassy.

The reopening of the embassy, which had been closed since 1993 was announced in February, before the security agreement was made public. However, this announcement came amid growing concerns about Chinese influence in the strategically vital country.


 

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