Washington re-establishes diplomatic presence in Solomon Islands after almost 30 years of withdrawal
The United States (US) Embassy will accelerate the vital collaboration in building the decades of ties between the US and Solomon Islands after 30 years of diplomatic absence in Honiara.
US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken, made this assurance during the official announcement of its embassy in Honiara yesterday.
“Our embassy will accelerate the vital collaboration in building the decades of ties between our government and our people,” he said via video conference.
Mr Blinken said this is an important moment for the region to share because more than any other parts of the world, the Indo-Pacific region, including the Pacific Islands, will shape the world’s trajectory in the 21st century and this is an economy demography fact.
He said the US is committed to working with Solomon Islands and other partners to support an Indo-Pacific that is “free and open, interconnected, prosperous, secured and resilient.
“We are also dedicated to invest in the vision of the declaration under the US Partnership for a pacific region that is peaceful, inclusive, harmonious, a place where individuals can reach their potential and an environment where democracy can flourish.
“We will tackle shared challenges and mutual opportunity.
“We travel between our countries, foster new and deeper partnership between our communities, businesses and institutions and across the region through the Pacific Islands Forum.
“In all, what we do for America and Solomon Island we will build our greater strength,” Mr Blinken underscored.
He also highlighted that one of the priorities of Washington is to bring back the Peace Corps programme in the country.
Between 1971 and 2000, generations of Americans were deployed to local communities in Solomon Islands under the Peace Corps volunteers.
“Today we will bring back the programme,” Mr Blinken said.
Mr Blinken said the presence of an Embassy in Honiara is an important step forward in the bilateral friendship in helping to deliver for our people and for the region to share and for the world to see.
The US Chargé d’Affaires ad interim to Solomon Islands, Russell Comeau, will continue to serve in the position.
Comeau is a career member of the Foreign Service who joined the State Department in 2005 and arrived in Solomon Islands for the first time in October 2021.
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Comeau informed Honiara that the opening of the embassy became official as of 27 January 2023 and thanked it for its support to increase the US-Solomon Islands bilateral relationship in this way.
The US Chargé d’Affaires ad interim Comeau stated, “The Government of Solomon Islands has more direct access to a broader range of opportunities for engagement through our new embassy. Becoming an embassy is a first step that will hasten the process of establishing permanent facilities and deploying additional diplomatic personnel.”
“As one of the first countries to recognise Solomon Islands after its independence, the United States is pleased to join fellow partners represented at the embassy level.
“This action stands as an enduring symbol of our commitment to the country and the region. The US Embassy in Solomon Islands will serve as a key platform from which the US government will continue to develop the Indo-Pacific partnership with a critical partner, based on shared values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”
By CHARLES KADAMANA