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    US Opens Embassy in Solomon Islands to Counter China

    US Opens Embassy in Solomon Islands to Counter China

    WELLINGTON, Zealand — The United States opened an embassy in the Solomon Islands on Thursday in its latest move to counter China's push into the Pacific.

    The embassy is starting small, with a chargé d'affaires, a couple of State Department staff and a handful of local employees. The U.S. previously operated an embassy in the Solomon Islands for five years before closing it in 1993 as part of a global reduction in diplomatic posts after the end of the Cold War.

    But China's bold moves in the region have the U.S. seeking to increase its engagement in a number of ways, such as by donating -19 vaccines, bringing back Peace Corps volunteers to several island , and investing in forestry and tourism projects.

    The opening of the embassy in the Solomon Islands comes as Fiji's new leader, Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, appears to be reassessing some aspects of his nation's engagement with China. Rabuka told The Fiji Times last week he planned to end a police training and exchange agreement with China.

    The U.S. State Department notified lawmakers early last year that China's growing influence in the region made reopening the Solomon Islands embassy a priority. Since then, the Solomons has signed a security pact with China, raising fears of a buildup in the region, and the U.S. has countered by sending several high-level delegations.

    The Solomon Islands switched allegiance from the self-ruled island of…

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