A brief, but historic visit - Solomon Star News

A brief, but historic visit

13 August 2014

THE country hopes to gain from the United States Secretary of State John Kerry’s historic visit yesterday.

Mr Kerry was the first ever US secretary of State to visit the country since independence.

Arriving on a private jet at the historical Henderson Airfield now called the Honiara International Airport, he was welcomed by Foreign Affairs Minister Clay Forau.

This was followed by the presentation of a traditional shell necklace by a young lady dressed in traditional costumes.

Security was tight as Mr Kerry arrived with his delegation on Guadalcanal, the battlefield that bonds the two countries together.

He first made a courtesy call to the Government House where he met Governor General Sir Frank Kabui.

After their 15 minute meet, Mr Kerry and his delegation headed to the Prime Minister’s Office to meet PM Lilo and his delegation.

During their meeting, a few important issues were discussed regarding US’s support towards Solomon Islands.

There’s reassurance being made by Secretary Kerry with PM Lilo for continuous working together of the two countries and strengthening their common historical ties.

 Mr Kerry further highlighted US’s support to assist the Royal Solomon Islands Bomb Disposal Unit and support Solomon Islands with other Asia-Pacific countries with climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes.

During the two leaders discussions, Mr Kerry further assured PM Lilo of US’s support for free and fair elections, offer scholarships to study in US, support and strengthen the health sector and to work towards making Bloody Ridge a world heritage site amongst other issues of mutual interest

Secretary Kerry then visited the Coast Watchers monument along the Commonwealth Street in the Heart of Point Cruz where he paid tribute by laying a wreath in honour of fallen American soldiers and the local scouts.

From there Mr Kerry travelled up to Skyline to the American Memorial where he gave a short remark about the bravery and courage of American Marines and soldiers who have sacrificed their lives during WWII.

Mr Kerry in reverence laid a wreath with a moment of silence to honour and salutes these US Marines and service men.

He met the country’s Speaker of Parliament Sir Allan Kemakeza, the Opposition leader Dr Derek Sikua, city Mayor Andrew Mua and other diplomatic dignitaries who were present at the memorial.

Secretary Kerry was then given a short walk around the memorial accompanied by a historian who gave brief facts and explanations of the monument’s history.

Leaving the Skyline monument, Mr Kerry made a quick visit to Bloody Ridge with PM Lilo before he and his delegation were fare welled at the airport around 5pm yesterday.

Mr Kerry and his delegation flew to Hawai’i where he’ll end his Asia-Pacific visit.

His brief visit has been welcomed by Solomon Islanders lining up the streets.

Traffic was on hold as the US secretary of State passed through the city in what could be a story to be remembered in the years to come.