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High-level US delegation heads to Solomon Islands to mark World War II amid China moves

WASHINGTON: A high-level United States delegation will travel to the Solomon Islands to mark the 80th anniversary of the World War II Battle of Guadalcanal, months after the country signed a controversial security pact with China, the State Department announced on Monday (Jul 25).

Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and other senior diplomats and military leaders will visit the islands' capital Honiara from Aug 6 to Aug 8 and attend memorial events organised with Japan, now a close US ally.

The visitors will include Caroline Kennedy, the US ambassador to Australia, whose father, the late president John F Kennedy, was famously wounded in the Solomon Islands in a Japanese attack at sea in the wake of the decisive battle.

"These events will recognise the service and sacrifice of those who fought in the Battle of Guadalcanal, including US and Allied forces, the people of Solomon Islands and the people of Japan," a State Department statement said.

It said the US delegation will also "highlight the enduring relationship between the United States and Solomon Islands", including the recent decision to reopen a US embassy in Honiara.

The Solomon Islands in April signed a secretive security deal with China, defying warnings voiced by the United States and Australia which fear that a rising Beijing will exert its military clout farther into the Pacific.

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Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, however, recently insisted that the Solomon Islands will not host a foreign military base for fear of becoming a target.

Sherman's father was a member of the Marine Corps who was seriously injured in the Battle of Guadalcanal, a major offensive over six months in 1942 and 1943 that triggered a Japanese withdrawal and marked the start of major Allied operations in the Pacific.

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