Asia - Pacific

Chinese foreign minister arrives on 2-day visit to Solomon Islands

Wang Yi to meet top leaders of archipelago nation, first visit after last month's security deal

Chinese foreign minister arrives on 2-day visit to Solomon Islands


Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday arrived on a two-day visit to Solomon Islands, officials said.

Wang was welcomed by Solomon Islands' Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Jeremiah Manele on arrival at the Honiara International Airport early this morning, according to an official statement by the Pacific nation.

Wang is expected to meet top government officials and sign a number agreements for bilateral cooperation.

This is the first visit by a top Chinese official to Honiara after the signing of a security deal between the two countries last month, that triggered a chain reaction from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the US.

Under the deal, China will help Solomon Islands enhance its security and equip the police force with latest technology.

Many countries in the region fear that this could lead to establishment of a military base by China in the archipelago nation, a concern shunned by both Beijing and Honiara.

Wang will also visit Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor during his tour from May 26 to June 4.

Ahead of Chinese foreign minister's visit to Fiji, Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong will travel to Suva.

"Tomorrow I am traveling to Fiji to strengthen our countries' partnership. Australia will listen and work together to face our shared challenges and achieve our shared aspirations. Nothing is more important in that work than action on climate change," Wong tweeted on Wednesday.

The meeting was also confirmed by Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

"Tomorrow, I'll meet Australian Foreign Affairs Minister @senatorwong. Next Monday, I'll meet Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. I've been asked about Fiji's agenda. At all tables, what matters most is our people and our planet, as well as respect for international law," he tweeted.

*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid

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