/ 25 September 2023

Is there anything more annoying than a late RSVP?

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Riddle us this: you spend ages planning an important get-together, and you time it so they’re in your neck of the woods for another big engagement – but then a key person declines the invite… That tortured scene-setter is what the Solomon Islands’ PM Manasseh Sogavare has done ahead of today’s second US-Pacific Islands summit. After a gathering last year, part 2 was to take place in Papua New Guinea a few months ago, but Biden had to cancel thanks to domestic budget wrangling. The meeting was then rescheduled for this week when most Pacific leaders were in the US for the United Nations General Assembly, but Sogavare – who is in America – has said yeah nah. Analysts say it’s down to the Solomons’ tilt towards China, but Sogavare says he needs to get home. And like a diligent party planner, US officials say they’re “disappointed” but will push forward to “reaffirm the US commitment to our shared regional priorities and deepening our cooperation”.

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