Washington hopes that the Solomon Islands Embassy reopening will increase its presence in the Pacific.
The United States is planning to open its first embassy on the Solomon Islands in 29 years following violent riots on the island and the nation’s increase in relations with China, media reported on Saturday, citing officials.
AP received a memo from the US State Department to Congress. It indicated that Antony Blinken, Secretary of State of the United States of America would open an embassy in the Islands during a visit by the President of Fiji. Blinken – who arrived in Fiji on Saturday local time – is said to hope that the move will bolster the US’ presence in the Pacific as its diplomatic conflict with China continues.
“The United States has a strategic interest in enhancing our political, economic, and commercial relationship with Solomon Islands, the largest Pacific Island nation without a U.S. Embassy,”In its memo, the State Department claimed.
Acknowledging China’s increased relationship with the Solomon Islands, the State Department said it needed to stop being “a remote player.”
The embassy – which will reportedly start with just two US staffers and five locals – will be the US’ first on the Solomon Islands since it cut back its diplomatic presence 29 years ago. In July 1993, President Bill Clinton closed the US’ last Solomon Islands Embassy.
In 2019, the Solomon Islands cut ties to Taiwan and opted for a closer relationship with Beijing. Riots in the capital city, Honiara subsequently broke out in November, with violent rioters setting fire to the city’s Chinatown.
Manasseh Sogare, the Prime Minister blamed the unrest for incitement from overseas, although he refused to identify the state at issue, but simply commented. “We know who they are.”
China offered to assist the Solomon Islands in combating riots. In December, six officers from Beijing were sent along with equipment to equip and train local troops.
“China firmly supports the government of Solomon Islands in defending the country’s stability, resolutely safeguards the relations between China and Solomon Islands and the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens there, and strongly condemns any illegal and violent action,”Zhao Lijian (Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson) stated that the statement was made at that moment.
The US recommends that Americans avoid traveling to Solomon Islands. “due to Covid-19,” listing the country in its red alert ‘do not travel’ section.
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