Speaking online to the media, the most senior US diplomat for the region, Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink, reiterated the strong concern of Washington regarding the security pact concluded between the Solomon Islands and China on March 31. With the position of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, he is the most senior US diplomat responsible for the area. He has just completed a visit to the Solomons that included a 90-minute meeting with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and members of his government.

Listen to a recording of the conference here.
Download a transcript of the conference here.

He said that what was particularly troubling was the agreement was negotiated in secret and its full contents are unknown. As a sign of just how seriously the Biden administration is taking this, he was accompanied by National Security Council Indo-Pacific Coordinator Dr. Kurt Campbell, the Deputy Commander from INDOPACOM Lieutenant General Steve Sklenka and the USAID Acting Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Asia Craig Hart. Ambassador Kritenbrink explained:

Amb. Dan Kritenbrink

“We told the Solomon Islands leadership that the United States would respond if steps were taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation in the Solomon Islands. Prime Minister Sogavare reiterated in his public remarks, noting specific assurances that there would be no military base, no long-term presence, and no power-projection capability. The United States emphasised that we would follow developments closely in consultation with regional partners.”

He would not be specifically drawn on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s phrase of a Chinese military base constituting a “red line” but on several occasions stressed how such a development would be of great concern. In an almost immediate response, the US is re-opening its embassy in Honiara, which was closed in 1993.

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Kym Bergmann
Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


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