Sydney, Australia, Apr 22 (EFE).- Two senior White House officials visited the Solomon Islands Friday, days after the island nation signed a security pact with China that set off alarm bells in the west on a possible Chinese military presence in the Pacific.
The agreement, whose draft details were leaked in March on social media channels, opens the possibility for Beijing to send security forces at the request of the Solomon government.
The United States and its several Western allies urged the Solomon Island government not to go ahead with the deal that has raised fears that China might establish a naval base in the Pacific.
Honiara brushed off the concerns and dismissed the fears, saying the agreement with China was to respond to “Solomon’s soft and hard domestic threats.”
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said the country would uphold its “friends to all and enemies to none” foreign policy.
Sogavare told parliament Wednesday that the agreement would not undermine peace in the Pacific and posed no threat to the countries in the region.
Amid the fears sparked by the security pact, the US sent Kurt Campbell, President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific coordinator, and Daniel Kritenbrink, Under Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, to the island nation that switched diplomatic ties from Taiwan to Beijing in 2019.
Campbell met Sogavare after arriving in the capital Honiara. But the details of what they spoke about were not revealed to the media.
Campbell and Kritenbrink were in Fiji and Papua New Guinea over past two days to discuss the China-Solomon Islands pact.
Before meeting the US officials, Sogavare inaugurated a China-financed sports stadium with Li Ming, the Chinese ambassador in Honiara.
The stadium is one of the sports facilities China has helped the Solomons to build before the island hosts the 2023 Pacific Games.
In his speech at the event, Sogavare said shifting the diplomatic ties in favor of China had “placed the country on the right side of history,”
The president stressed the ties between the two countries have developed based on “trust, respect, and genuine desire to have long-term sustainable development results” in the three years of diplomatic relations with China.
Ambassador Li Ming said China “fully supports the development of the Solomon Islands.” EFE