U.S. officials head to Solomon Islands amid concerns over China pact

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Washington, April 19, 2022 (dpa/NAN) The United States (U.S.) has warned a proposed security agreement between China and the Solomon Islands may set a concerning precedent for the Pacific region.

A draft agreement, leaked online, indicated the Solomon Islands would allow Beijing to send military forces to the country and make regular ship visits.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price confirmed U.S. officials would head to the Solomon Islands later this week amid concerns about the proposal.

“We believe that signing such an agreement could increase destabilisation within the Solomon Islands and will set a concerning precedent for the wider Pacific Island region,’’ he said.

Price said the visit was about the partnership the U.S. could bring to its partners in the region.

“And we’ll leave it to them to contrast what we offer from what other countries, including rather large countries in the region, might offer.”

During recent unrest in the Solomon Islands, both Australia and New Zealand sent support to the country.

Both countries have voiced their concern about the security proposal.

In response, the Solomon Islands said it would not allow China to build a military base there.

However, Price said the broad nature of the security agreement leaves open the door for the deployment of China’s military forces.

U.S. officials, led by National Security Council Indo-Pacific coordinator Kurt Campbell, would also visit Fiji and Papua New Guinea during the trip.

“Part of the task of the upcoming visit will be to share perspectives, to share interests, to share concerns,’’ Price said