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International relations

Japan foreign minister talks security in first Solomon Islands visit

Hayashi's trip comes 1 year after China signed pact with Pacific state

Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, left, meets with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare in Honiara on March 19. (Courtesy of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan) 

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi discussed global security and China's presence in the Pacific with the leader of the Solomon Islands on Sunday, in what was the first visit by a Japanese foreign minister to the island state.

Hayashi said Japan was "watching the developments" of a security pact the Solomon Islands signed with China last year, and discussed the current global security environment with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, according to a statement by Japan's Foreign Ministry.

The visit took place a year after the security pact between China and the Solomon Islands prompted concern from the United States and Australia as China seeks to extend its influence in the region.

Japan said it was ready to provide assistance in maritime security, as it seeks partnerships in Pacific Island countries in promoting regional peace and stability through its free and open Indo-Pacific strategy, according to Japan's Foreign Ministry.

Hayashi also sought understanding for Japan's plan to release 1 million tonnes of treated water from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant into the ocean and handed Sogavare a letter from Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the matter.

Sogavare said he hoped Japan will ensure the safety of the release and be open about the process, according to the statement.

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