Deputy Assistant to the US President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific National Security Council, Dr. Kurt Campbell says his delegation’s visit to the Solomon Islands is to follow up on commitments and engagements made by President Joe Biden to Pacific Island leaders in Washington last year. In September 2022, Biden hosted the summit with Pacific Island leaders with the intent to not just listen but to also put substantial resources on the table. Six months on, the US representatives are now in Honiara in a whirl of visits to Pacific Island countries including the Solomon Islands.
Campbell’s visit comes amidst a visit by the Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Mr. Hayashi Yoshimasa and a high level delegation from the government of China to monitor and assess PRC aid funded projects. The visit by the Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister is the first of its kind to Solomon Islands since the two countries (Japan and Solomon Islands) embarked on a bilateral relationship in 1978. More than 80 years ago, Japan and the US were rivals during the battle of Guadalcanal. UXO is the common factor for both countries in the Solomon Islands now.
The issue of Unexploded Ordnance or UXO expressing the need for US to assist in removing the UXOs both on land and in specified areas in the sea was highlighted by the Prime Minister to the visiting US delegation. Other social issues discussed including availing more scholarships for Solomon Islanders, partnership between the Solomon Islands National Uuniversity and US education institutions, easing visa requirements between the two countries, and the resumption of the Peace Corp program. Prime Minister Sogavare also acknowledged the US’s commitment to the Washington Summit which saw US appointing Ambassador Reed as Pacific Envoy. This is the second time for Dr. Kurt Campbell to visit the Solomon Islands.