Solomon Islands agreed to deal after China reference was withdrawn

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (AP) — The Solomon Islands have agreed to sign deals between the United States and more than 10 Pacific nations only after indirect references to China are removed, Solomon Islands foreign minister said. said Tuesday.

Jeremiah Manele told reporters in Wellington: “There have been some mentions of putting us in a position of having to choose one or the other, but we didn’t want to be put in a position of having to choose one or the other. ‘ said.

His remarks were the first time the Solomon Islands had publicly acknowledged that they had initial concerns about the agreement, and expressed why they had a change of heart.

the agreement is signed in Washington .

The administration has pledged the United States to add $810 million in new aid to Pacific island countries over the next decade. The summit came amid growing US concerns over China’s military and economic influence in the Pacific.

However final agreement It mainly focuses on issues such as climate change, economic growth and natural disasters. A small section on security contains broad language, specifically denouncing Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, but not mentioning China.

Ahead of the summit, diplomats said they suggested the Solomon Islands were unlikely to sign a joint declaration.

Many in the United States and Pacific were keen to bring the Solomon Islands on board afterwards. become wary Especially on the growing ties between the Solomon Islands and China after the two countries signed a security pact earlier this year.

“In the first draft, there were some references that we didn’t agree with, but after discussions and negotiations with the authorities, we were able to find common ground.

Pressed further by reporters over these concerns, Manele acknowledged that the draft contained indirect references to China.

He said the Solomon Islands security pact with China is part of the National Security Strategy and does not stipulate that China build military bases.

Manele met Nanaia Mahuta from New Zealand in Wellington. rainbow room, dedicated to the country’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities. The room is adorned with photographs of LGBTQ lawmakers and framed copies of bills relevant to those communities.

Gay and lesbian sex is still illegal in the Solomon Islands.

Manele said the Solomon Islands is a young democracy.

“These are new issues. These are challenges that we find a way to discuss as a young country,” he said.

Mahta said there was no intended meaning or message in the choice of location. “It was the only room we had available,” she said.