The United States warns Solomon Islands about action over the pact with China
The United States warns Solomon Islands about action over the pact with China

The United States warns Solomon Islands about action over the pact with China

The Biden administration warned the Solomon Islands that the United States would take unspecified action against them if its cooperation agreement with China posed a threat to US or allied interests

The Biden administration warned the Solomon Islands that the United States would take unspecified action against them if its cooperation agreement with China posed a threat to US or allied interests

The Biden administration on Thursday warned the Solomon Islands that the United States will take unspecified action against the South Pacific if its recently concluded cooperation agreement with China poses a threat to US or allied interests.

The White House said the message was delivered directly to the country’s leadership by a visiting senior U.S. delegation. The delegation expressed concern that the agreement with China raises questions about its scope and purpose, according to the White House, which also lamented the transparency of the agreement and cast doubt on Solomon Islands officials’ claims that the agreement was purely domestic.

The visit came days after China and the Solomon Islands confirmed they had signed a security pact, a development that has alarmed neighboring countries and Western allies fearing a military build-up in the region.

“Representatives of the Solomon Islands indicated that the agreement had exclusively domestic uses, but the U.S. delegation noted that there are potential regional security implications of the agreement, including for the United States and its allies and partners,” the White House said in a statement.

“The U.S. delegation outlined clear areas of concern regarding the purpose, scope and transparency of the agreement,” it said. “If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power projection capabilities or a military installation, the delegation noted that the United States would have significant concerns and respond accordingly.”

There was no indication of what the US reaction might be.

The White House statement noted that Solomon’s Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare had assured the United States that there would be no long-term Chinese presence on the islands and no power projection capacity, but stressed that the United States would “follow developments closely in consultation with regional partners.”

A draft pact, which was leaked online, said Chinese warships could stop in the Solomon Islands for logistical replenishment, and China could send police and armed forces there “to help maintain social order.” The Solomon Islands and China have not published the final version of the agreement.

In an attempt to address the issue, the United States, and the Solomon Islands accepted, proposed a proposal to launch a high-level strategic dialogue that would address mutual concerns. The U.S. delegation was led by Kurt Campbell, National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator, and Daniel Kritenbrink, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

During the visit, the US side also discussed its plans to reopen an embassy in Solomon’s capital Honiara as it seeks to increase its presence in the strategically important country amid growing concerns about Chinese influence. The embassy has been closed since 1993.

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