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U.S. Effort to Catch Up With China in the South Pacific Gets Off to Bumpy Start

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hosted a working lunch with representatives from Pacific Island Countries on the margins of the U.S.-Pacific Island Country Summit in Washington, D.C., on September 28, 2022. Kevin Wolf / POOL / AFP

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday welcomed leaders from 11 South Pacific island nations to the White House for a two-day summit that is widely seen as a critical part of Washington’s effort to match China’s growing influence in the region.

But the gathering did not get off to a good start when the Solomon Islands communicated to the White House that it would not sign a joint declaration at the end of the summit. The Solomon Islands delegation reportedly told organizers that they needed “time to reflect” on the declaration.

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