SYDNEY/WASHINGTON, Sept 24 (Reuters) – The United States is disappointed that Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will not attend a Pacific islands summit with U.S. President Joe Biden next week, he said at the White House on Saturday .
Biden will host a second summit with leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum at the White House on Monday as part of his effort to strengthen engagement in a region where the United States is locked in a battle for influence with China.
The summit is scheduled to take place with the 18-member forum on Monday and Tuesday in Washington.
“We are disappointed that Solomon Islands Prime Minister Sogavare is not scheduled to attend,” a Biden administration official said.
In his place, Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Maneli will attend the summit, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation ABC reported.
The Solomon Islands prime minister’s office did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Sogavare addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Friday, where he praised China’s development cooperation as “less restrictive and more responsive and focused on our national needs” and said Beijing was its most important infrastructure partner.
Sogavare said he reached an agreement with President Xi Jinping during his China visit to the Solomon Islands in July to achieve development through China’s policies, including the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Security Initiative.
Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman will also not attend the meeting because all MPs in the Vanuatu government must go to parliament on Monday for a vote of no confidence, an official in the Vanuatu prime minister’s office told Reuters on Friday. Satu Kilman.