(AP) The US says it will open an embassy in the Solomon Islands, laying out in unusually blunt terms a plan to increase its influence in the South Pacific nation before China becomes strongly embedded.
The reasoning was explained in a State Department notification to Congress that was obtained by The Associated Press.
The plan was confirmed by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Fiji Saturday on a Pacific tour that began in Australia.
The State Department said the Peace Corps was planning to reopen an office in the Solomon Islands and have its volunteers serve there, and that several US agencies were establishing government positions with portfolios in the Solomons. The Peace Corps first went to the Solomon Islands in 1971.
The Department needs to be part of this increased US presence, rather than remaining a remote player, it wrote.
The State Department said it didn’t expect to build a new embassy immediately but would at first lease space at an initial set-up cost of 12.4 million. The embassy would be located in the capital, Honiara, and would start small, with two US employees and about five local staff.