US warns Solomon Islands PM over security pact with China

Washington [US]: The United States on Friday raised “significant concerns” about the security pact signed between Solomon Islands and China and warned that should Beijing maintain any military presence there, the US would “respond accordingly”.

China and Solomon Islands have signed a framework agreement on security cooperation that neighbours of the South Pacific archipelago fear could open the door to a Chinese naval base in the country.
On April 22, a high-level US delegation visited Honiara, Solomon Islands and met for 90 minutes with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, along with two dozen members of his cabinet and senior staff. This visit to Solomon Islands was the final leg of the delegation’s trip across the Pacific.

In the meeting with Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Sogavare, the US delegation reiterated the key priorities animating the trip and also outlined steps Washington would take to advance the welfare of the people of Solomon Islands.

“The United States respects the right of nations to make sovereign decisions in the best interests of their people. The two sides engaged in substantial discussion around the recently signed security agreement between Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Solomon Islands representatives indicated that the agreement had solely domestic applications, but the U.S. delegation noted there are potential regional security implications of the accord, including for the United States and its allies and partners,” the White House statement read.

Outlining areas of concern with respect to the purpose, scope, and transparency of the agreement, the US delegation 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 US would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly.”

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had said the security deal would involve cooperating with Honiara on maintaining social order, protecting people’s safety, aid, combating natural disasters and helping safeguard national security.

Speaking at a press briefing, Wenbin defended the signing of security cooperation with the Solomon Islands and said the agreement “does not target any third party.” (ANI)

 

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