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US Doesn’t Rule out Military Action if China Establishes Base in Solomon Islands

US Doesn’t Rule out Military Action if China Establishes Base in Solomon Islands
folder_openAsia-Pacific... access_time 27 days ago
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By Staff, Agencies 

One of the most senior US officials in the Pacific has refused to rule out military action against Solomon Islands if it were to allow China to establish a military base there, saying that the security deal between the countries presented “potential regional security implications” for the US and other allies.

Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was part of a high-level US delegation to the Pacific country last week.

He said the US team, which also included the National Security Council coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs, Kurt Campbell, had a 90-minute “constructive and candid” meeting with prime minister Manasseh Sogavare in which the US team detailed concerns about its recently signed security deal with China.

“We wanted to outline for our friends in the Solomons, what our concerns are,” said Kritenbrink. “Prime minister Sogavare indicated that in the Solomon Islands’ view, the agreement they’ve concluded has solely domestic implications. But we’ve made clear that there are potential regional security implications of the agreement not just for ourselves, but for allies and partners across the region.”

On Tuesday, Kritenbrink reiterated the US’s willingness to act in the region if a military base were established by China.

“Of course, we have respect for the Solomon Islands sovereignty, but we also wanted to let them know that if steps were taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power projection capabilities, or a military installation, then we would have significant concerns, and we would very naturally respond to those concerns,” he said.

When asked what that response could involve, he said: “Look, I’m not going to speculate and I’m not in a position to talk about what the United States may or may not do in such a situation.”

Pressed on whether he would rule out the prospect of the US taking military action against Solomon Islands were a naval base to be established, and, if not, whether he was comfortable with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison’s talk of the base being a “red line” for Australia, he said: “I don’t have a lot to add beyond what I’ve already stated.”

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