SYDNEY (Bloomberg): The Solomon Islands is refusing to agree to a new US-led regional deal which was due to be signed at a high-level meeting in Washington within days, disrupting weeks of negotiations and frustrating American attempts to reassert itself in the Pacific.
The Pacific island nation sent a diplomatic note to its regional partners saying it would not sign the declaration, adding there was a lack of consensus over the deal and it needed more time to consider the agreement, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Wednesday (Sept 28).
The US has been attempting to strengthen ties with Pacific nations in recent months as Chinese government influence grows in the region.
The unexpected announcement of a security agreement between Beijing and the Solomon Islands in April sent shock waves through the diplomatic community in the US and Australia.
Weeks of negotiations have been held on the agreement ahead of the high-profile summit between US President Joe Biden and Pacific leaders which is due to start Thursday in Washington, according to the ABC.
If signed, the deal would strengthen security ties between the US and the Pacific and help coordinate action on climate change, Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa (pic) told the broadcaster.
The Thursday meeting will represent the biggest ever group of Pacific leaders hosted by the White House.
The US deal is similar to a region-wide pact which the Chinese government attempted to strike with 10 Pacific nations in May, the ABC reported.
Beijing’s proposed agreement was scuppered when Pacific leaders said they weren’t given enough time to consider the deal.