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Exclusive: Pence rebuffs Solomon Islands PM after nation cuts ties with Taiwan

Exclusive: Pence rebuffs Solomon Islands PM after nation cuts ties with Taiwan
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence meets with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (not pictured) at 10 Downing Street in London, Britain, September 5, 2019. Peter Summers/Pool via REUTERS -
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By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has declined to meet Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare after the nation cut ties with Taiwan in favour of China this week, a senior U.S. administration official said on Tuesday.

Sogavare had asked Pence to meet during a phone conversation in July to discuss development partnerships, the official told Reuters, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The meeting was to have taken place on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

“But the decision by the Solomon Islands to change its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China has consequences. They’re hurting a historically strong relationship by doing this,” the official said.

“It’s a setback, and it’s prioritising short-term gain with China over long-term commitment with the U.S.,” the official said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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