Solomon Islands agreed to accord after China references axed

Oct 3, 2022, 7:43 PM | Updated: 7:54 pm
Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele addresses a media conference at Parliament in Well...

Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele addresses a media conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. Solomon Islands agreed to sign an accord between the United States and more than a dozen Pacific nations only after indirect references to China were removed, the Solomon Islands foreign minister said Tuesday. (Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

(Mark Mitchell/New Zealand Herald via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Solomon Islands agreed to sign an accord between the United States and more than a dozen Pacific nations only after indirect references to China were removed, the Solomon Islands foreign minister said Tuesday.

“There were some references that put us in a position where we’ll have to choose sides, and we did not want to be placed in a position where we have to choose sides,” Jeremiah Manele told reporters in Wellington.

His remarks represented the first time Solomon Islands has publicly acknowledged it had initial concerns about the agreement and expressed why it had a change of heart.

The accord was signed in Washington last week, with President Joe Biden telling visiting Pacific leaders that the U.S. was committed to bolstering its presence in the region and becoming a more collaborative partner.

The administration pledged the U.S. would add $810 million in new aid for Pacific Island nations over the next decade. The summit came amid growing U.S. concern about China’s military and economic influence in the Pacific.

But the final agreement focused mainly on issues like climate change, economic growth and natural disasters. A small section on security contained mostly broad language, and while it specifically condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it made no mention of China.

Ahead of the summit, diplomats had said Solomon Islands was signaling it was unlikely to sign the joint declaration, which would have represented a diplomatic blow for both the U.S. and the Pacific nations.

Many in the U.S. and the Pacific had been eager to get Solomon Islands on board after becoming alarmed about the increasing ties between Solomon Islands and China, especially after the two nations signed a security agreement earlier this year.

“In the initial draft, there were some references that we were not comfortable with, but then with the officials, after discussions and negotiations, we were able to find common ground,” Manele said.

Pressed further by reporters on those concerns, Manele acknowledged the draft had contained indirect references to China.

He said the Solomon Islands security agreement with China was part of a national security strategy and there was no provision in it for China to build a military base, as some had feared.

Manele met with his New Zealand counterpart Nanaia Mahuta in Wellington at a potentially awkward venue — Parliament’s so-called Rainbow Room, which is dedicated to the nation’s gay, lesbian and transgender communities. The room features photographs of LGBTQ lawmakers and framed copies of bills relevant to those communities.

In Solomon Islands, gay and lesbian sex remain illegal.

Manele said Solomon Islands was a young democracy.

“These are emerging issues. These are challenges that as a young country we will find ways to discuss,” he said.

Mahuta said there was no undertone or message intended in the choice of location. “It was the only available room for us to use,” she said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

How major US stock indexes fared Monday 11/28/2022

Stocks fell broadly on Wall Street as protests spread in China calling for President Xi Jinping to step down amid growing anger over severe restrictions imposed as part of his “zero COVID” strategy in the world’s second-largest economy. The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq fell. Small-company stocks fell more than […]
16 hours ago
FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2019, photo James Bullard, president of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank,...
Associated Press

2 Fed officials favor keeping key rate at peak through 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two Federal Reserve officials said Monday that they favor raising the Fed’s key rate to roughly 5% or more and keeping it at its peak through next year — longer than many on Wall Street have expected. John Williams, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, who is among a […]
16 hours ago
This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson. The Missouri man...
Associated Press

Missouri Supreme Court weighs fate of death row inmate

Kevin Johnson might not be facing imminent execution if he was white, attorneys speaking on his behalf told the Missouri Supreme Court on Monday. Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Parson announced he will not grant clemency. Johnson, 37, is scheduled to die by injection at 6 p.m. Tuesday for killing Kirkwood, Missouri, Police Officer William McEntee in […]
16 hours ago
Protesters hold up blank papers and chant slogans as they march in protest in Beijing, Sunday, Nov....
Associated Press

China’s ‘zero-COVID’ limits saved lives but no clear exit

China’s strategy of controlling the coronavirus with lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines has provoked the greatest show of public dissent against the ruling Communist Party in decades. Most protesters on the mainland and in Hong Kong have focused their anger on restrictions that confine families to their homes for months. Global health experts have criticized […]
16 hours ago
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks at a news conference on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in F...
Associated Press

Kentucky AG avoids talk of more exceptions to abortion ban

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general stood firmly behind the state’s near-total abortion ban Monday, saying he promotes Kentucky values “without fear or favor” though the Republican gubernatorial candidate stopped short of saying whether he supports adding more exceptions to the ban. At a news conference, Daniel Cameron refrained from commenting on calls for […]
16 hours ago
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks on the House floor at the Capitol in Washington, Thurs...
Associated Press

HBO to air Nancy Pelosi doc shot by daughter Alexandra

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A documentary on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s life and groundbreaking political career, shot and edited by her daughter, will debut on HBO next month. Alexandra Pelosi’s “Pelosi in the House” will premiere Dec. 13 and will include footage shot during the Jan. 6 insurrection. Some of that footage, including moments when […]
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Solomon Islands agreed to accord after China references axed