Solomon Islands PM’s Absence from Pacific Summit: A Setback for Biden’s Pacific Strategy
PM Sogavare’s Absence at Pacific Summit
Manasseh Sogavare, the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands, will not be attending the Pacific Summit to be held on September 25th, hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden. This decision, revealed by a Solomon Islands government official, was dictated by Sogavare’s need to return to his country for official duties related to a series of legislative reviews. The Prime Minister’s decision has been met with disappointment from U.S. government officials.
It should be noted that the invitation from the White House was extended after Sogavare had confirmed his legislative schedule. As a result, Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele will represent the Solomon Islands at the Pacific Summit in Sogavare’s stead.
Impact on Biden’s Pacific Strategy
Sogavare’s decision not to attend the Pacific Summit has been described as a setback for Biden’s Pacific strategy. The summit, which will bring together 18 Pacific Islands Forum leaders, is part of Biden’s broader initiative to strengthen interactions with the Pacific region. This effort comes amidst escalating competition between the U.S. and China for influence in the Pacific.
Increasing Western Concerns Over Solomon Islands-China Relations
Western nations have been increasingly concerned about the Solomon Islands’ interactions with China, particularly since the signing of a secret security cooperation agreement between the two countries last year. China has been investing heavily in the Solomon Islands and has funded the development of a new national stadium and infrastructure for the Pacific Games, which will be held there in November.
Sogavare’s Praise for Cooperation with Beijing
At the UN General Assembly in New York, Sogavare lauded the development cooperation with China, describing it as being less restrictive, more responsive, and meeting their national needs. He pointed out that Beijing is the Solomon Islands’ primary partner in infrastructure development. During his July visit to Beijing, Sogavare reached a consensus with Chinese President Xi Jinping to achieve development through the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Security Initiative.
Sogavare’s Stance on Japan’s Discharge of Nuclear Wastewater
In his speech at the United Nations, Sogavare echoed Beijing’s stance, condemning Japan’s decision to discharge nuclear wastewater. Expressing shock at Japan’s decision, he argued that if the nuclear wastewater were safe, it should be stored in Japan. He further suggested that Japan’s intention of dumping the wastewater into the ocean indicates that it is not safe.
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