The United States reopened its embassy in the Solomon Islands on Thursday (February 2), 30 years after it was closed, amid growing rivalry with China in the South Pacific.
The reopening of the US Embassy marks “renewing our commitment to the people of the Solomon Islands and our partners in the regionAsia-Pacific region, says US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement.
Agreement with Beijing
The US closed its embassy in the capital Honiara in 1993 following the end of the Cold War, which led to the closure of several diplomatic missions and reconfigured Washington’s priorities.
This reopening of the US embassy comes after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare signed a comprehensive, vaguely outlined security agreement with Beijing in 2022. Many Western countries, primarily the United States and Australia, fear that this pact will allow China to strengthen its military presence in the Pacific.
At the opening ceremony, U.S. diplomat Russell Corneau, acting U.S. representative in Honiara, said the embassy would serve as “key platformbetween his government and the Solomon Islands. According to the archipelago’s foreign minister, Colin Beck, the reopening of the embassy was “welcomed by the government and people of the Solomon Islands“.
But in the capital’s streets, reactions were mixed. Artist Natty Sala described her as a “not in the right directionto improve the two countries’ diplomatic ties and hopes that Washington will step up its efforts to remove tons of Japanese and American munitions dating from World War II that have never exploded and are still lying on the archipelago’s shores.
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If Lois Bana, 50, considers this reopening positive, she wonders about the weight of “geopoliticsin the US decision, as the US wants to counter China’s influence in the region. In September 2022, the White House announced a new fund of 810 million dollars in aid to the islands of the South Pacific, and already at that time stated that it wanted to increase the diplomatic presence of the United States in this region.