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HONIARA: The Solomon Islands on Thursday said it had inked a wide-ranging security pact with Beijing, an agreement Western allies fear will pave the way for the first Chinese military foothold in the South Pacific.

“Officials of Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China have initialled elements of a bilateral Security Cooperation Framework between the two countries today,” said a statement from the prime minister’s office in Honiara.

It is now awaiting signature by foreign ministers of the two countries.

A draft version of the agreement, leaked last week, detailed measures to allow Chinese security and naval deployments to the crisis-hit Pacific island nation.

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