Rishikesh KumarAll materialsWrite to the authorThe declaration followed the conclusion of a two-day summit on September 29. The 11-point agreement is designed to provide a framework for intensified US engagement in the region, but the Solomon Islands wanted to avoid choosing between Washington and Beijing.The Solomon Islands signed an 11-point accord between the US and 14 Pacific nations after Washington agreed to omit wording related to China, Solomon Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele revealed on Tuesday.The minister made it clear that his country did not want to be forced to “choose sides” between Washington and Beijing, explaining that Honiara was not comfortable with the reference that mandated Pacific Island states to consult with each other before signing security deals impacting the region. The Sogavare government considered such a requirement to be a nod towards its bilateral security pact with China.
"In the initial draft there were some references that we were not comfortable with, but then the officials under the discussions and negotiations (…) were able to find common ground, and then that took us on board, so we signed," said.
The 11-point declaration is aimed at bolstering a US presence in the region, noting, in particular, the “heightened geopolitical competition impacts” on Pacific Island nations.
Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands’ foreign minister clarified that the security agreement with China is focused on the internal law and order situation, and does not include provision for a military base.
“My belief (…) and my hope is this – that the Pacific should be a region of peace, of co-operation and collaboration, and it should not be seen as a region of confrontation, of conflict and of war,” he said.
WorldSolomon Parliament OKs Election Delay as PM Sogavare Mocks Australia Over Funding Offer8 September, 12:57 GMTThe Solomon Islands, which switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing in 2019, signed a security pact with China in April, triggering “grave concerns” in the US and its south Pacific allies, with Washington labeling it an attempt to militarize the region.The US has expedited its engagement with Pacific nations since June this year, opening up more diplomatic offices and funding climate change measures.Leaders from Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, French Polynesia and New Caledonia attended the first two-day summit chaired by US President Joe Biden.