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US opens embassy in Solomon Islands after 30-year absence to counter China | Solomon Islands

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America opens an embassy solomon islands It is trying to strengthen diplomatic ties in the Pacific region as a countermeasure against China.

U.S. Secretary of State, Anthony Brinken“More than any other part of the world, the Indo-Pacific region, including the Pacific Islands, will shape the world’s trajectory in the 21st century,” it said in a news release late Wednesday.

A top US diplomat announced plans to open a diplomatic mission to the Pacific island nation during a visit to the region last year. The Department of State intends to broaden its engagement and deepen international cooperation with the Solomon Islands.

The last US embassy in the Solomon Islands closed in 1993 amid post-Cold War budget cuts, and the US was stationed by a Papua New Guinea-based ambassador.

so statement On Wednesday, Brinken said the State Department had notified the Solomon Islands government that the opening of a new embassy in the capital, Honiara, had become official on January 27.

Last February, I announced that the United States would establish an embassy in the Solomon Islands. Now that pledge becomes a reality. America is a Pacific nation, and we are taking another important step forward for our people and the region we share. pic.twitter.com/lilp0ywZl9

— Secretary Anthony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 1, 2023

He said the United States is committed to making the Indo-Pacific region “free and open” and an “environment where democracy thrives.”

“The opening of the embassy will not only place more diplomatic personnel across the region, but will also engage more with our Pacific neighbors, link U.S. programs and resources with needs on the ground, and build people-to-people relationships. It’s based on our efforts to connect,” said Blinken.

The U.S. move is Beijing’s Military ambitions in the Indo-Pacific afterwards signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands last year.

An employee of the U.S. Embassy in the Solomon Islands. Photo: Charlie Piringhi/The Guardian

In September, U.S. President Joe Biden invited Pacific island leaders to a summit in Washington, pledging to stem China’s “economic coercion” and working with allies and partners to meet the needs of islanders. promised to respond to

A joint declaration by Washington and 14 Pacific island nations resolved to strengthen partnerships, saying they share a vision of a region where “democracies can thrive.”

Among those who backed the document was Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manase Sogavale, although his government had previously suggested it would not sign, raising concerns about its relationship with China. .

On Wednesday, Russell Comeau, acting ambassador for the U.S. Embassy, ​​said its opening was “a first step in speeding up the process of establishing a permanent facility and deploying additional diplomatic personnel.”

The embassy “stands as an enduring symbol of our commitment to the country and the region,” he said, adding that the United States “stands for shared values ​​of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.” will cooperate.

Colin Beck, undersecretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, welcomed the US embassy and renewed the partnership between the two countries, saying, “Most importantly, we share a history and shared values.”

Colin Beck (right) and Russell Comeau (middle) at the opening of the U.S. Embassy
Colin Beck (right) and Russell Comeau (middle) at the opening of the US Embassy. Photo: Charlie Piringhi/The Guardian

On Monday, the remote atoll nation of Kiribati rejoined the Pacific Islands Forum, saying it would end divisions that threatened unity at a time of heightened superpower tensions in the strategically located region.

Like the Solomon Islands, Kiribati switched diplomatic recognition in 2019 from an autonomous but China-claimed Taiwan to Beijing.

The reopening of the Solomon Islands embassy comes as Washington negotiates renewals of cooperation agreements with three major island nations in the Pacific: the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

Under the Cofa Agreement first agreed in the 1980s, Washington retains responsibility for the defense of the islands and exclusive access to a vast swath of the Pacific Ocean.

Washington said last month that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Marshall Islands and Palau on future U.S. economic assistance, but did not provide details.

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