The Solomon Islands has joined 13 other Pacific nations in signing a wide-reaching US-led partnership agreement, after early indications it would refuse.
The 10-point US-Pacific Partnership deal was announced by the White House on Thursday evening, following the first-ever meeting between a US president and the leaders of every major Pacific nation. It includes commitments for increased action on climate change, economic development and security cooperation.
Earlier, US President Joe Biden committed more than US$810 million to a new Pacific initiative. “A great deal of the history of our world is going to be written in the Indo-Pacific over the coming years and decades, and the Pacific Islands are a critical voice in shaping that future,” Biden said.
The agreement is similar in tone and reach to a deal that the Chinese government in May attempted to strike with Pacific nations, which was ultimately rejected by regional leaders, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) reported.
The head of the Pacific Islands Forum in July said Beijing had not given leaders enough time to consult on the agreement.
The Solomon Islands government had initially indicated to other Pacific nations that it would refuse to sign the US deal, the ABC said.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare stood at the left side of Biden during a group photograph after the summit.
In addition to establishing an embassy in Honaira, the FBI and the US Department of State are to provide law enforcement training in the Solomon Islands, a copy of the agreement released by the White House showed.
In the past year, the US and Australia have been increasingly concerned about growing Chinese influence in the Pacific and have increased diplomatic activity in the region.
The unexpected announcement in April of a security deal struck between China and the Solomon Islands was a major diplomatic win for Beijing.
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