Sherman: US Presence in PICs and SI Is Not Sudden, it’s about what President Biden instructed us to do
The United States Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has assured that the United States presence in the Pacific including the Solomon Islands is not sudden, but rather the Biden Administration’s policy to reinvest in alliances and partnerships.
Mrs Sherman made the assurance at a media conference in Honiara during her visit to the country on Sunday.
Mrs Sherman was responding to a question raised by a reporter on why the United States has shown a lot of interest in the region within only a few months.
She said it is their job to invest in the alliances and partnerships encouraged by the Biden administration.
“When President Biden became President of the United States, and he’s only been President for like a year and a half, he said that in foreign policy a critical priority for him was to reinvest in alliances and partnerships, and Solomon Islands is a partner. It is democracy. The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) is an important regional organization, and the President made a commitment and challenged all of us, directed all of us to invest in those alliances, partnerships, regional organizations, and that’s what we’ve gone about doing.
So what you’re seeing is diplomats like me and my colleagues and people in the Department of Defense and USAID and every other agency and department is following the direction of our Commander in Chief, the President of the United States, and that’s what we’re doing. So, it’s not sudden. It’s about what President Biden instructed all of us to do.”
The Deputy Secretary also stated that previous administrations have not considered priority on alliances, partnerships and regional organizations like the current administration.
“There have been other times when we have been very invested in these alliances and partnerships, but that’s not been true of every American administration. And the 80th Anniversary today was recalling how important that partnership with Solomon Islands was 80 years ago.
So it’s not like it just happened today, but there have been times when other administrations have not put a priority on alliances, partnerships, and regional organizations. But this administration, a very high priority,” Mrs Sherman said.
In her previous remarks during an event at the U.S Memorial at Skyline earlier that day, Mrs Sherman also shared similar sentiments of the Biden administration’s commitments in strengthening ties with Pacific Island countries.
She expresses the United States grave concern on its relationship with the Pacific as critical to the Pacific region.
“President Biden has made solidarity with the Pacific Islands a priority for his entire administration from the very beginning. That is why Secretary Blinken chose Fiji earlier this year as the place to release the Indo-Pacific Strategy because cooperation with the Pacific Islands was absolutely critical to the future of the entire region.
We are committed to reinvesting in our relationships with our Pacific family as we work together to address the challenges of the next eight decades and beyond,” she said.
The Deputy Secretary confirmed the United States is working to expand its diplomatic presence across the Pacific, including by opening its embassies in Tonga, Kiribati and Solomon Islands.
Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare also received a courtesy call from Mrs Sherman on 8 August 2022.
A statement from the Prime Minister’s Press Secretariat confirmed the two discussed the ongoing SI-US bilateral cooperation.
Among other issues discussed during their meeting includes the progress on establishing the US Embassy in Honiara, the US SCALE program, the Peace Corps program and the removal of UXO in Solomon Islands.
By Eliza Kukutu