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Kerry visits Solomon Islands, sees WWII memorials

Wednesday - 8/13/2014, 4:41am  ET

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves to bid farewell in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. Kerry ended his visit in Australia for an annual Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) meeting. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, Pool)

MATTHEW LEE
AP Diplomatic Writer

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (AP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid a visit Wednesday to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, where he met the tiny nation's leaders and commemorated the ferocious World War II battles fought on Guadalcanal.

Kerry met with Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Lilo and Governor General Frank Kabui to discuss sustainable development, ocean preservation and how the islands' 600,000 residents are coping with the effects of climate change.

Kerry laid a wreath at the Solomon Scouts and Coastwatchers Memorial, which pays tribute to Allied personnel and island natives who observed Japanese movement in the Pacific Ocean during World War II.

It was those scouts who rescued Navy Lt. John F. Kennedy and his crew after the sinking of PT-109 in August 1943. Kerry, who's from Kennedy's home state, Massachusetts, told Kabui, "We are very tied to you in many ways, certainly from my part of the country."

Kerry then visited the Guadalcanal American Memorial, where he met two American veterans of the U.S. campaign that began Allied operations against Japanese forces in 1942.

"This was the first moment, right here at Guadalcanal, where the United States turned from the preparation and aftereffect of Pearl Harbor into the offensive juggernaut that it became," Kerry said.

He added, "The tide of battle turned right here."

Kerry wrapped up his short visit with a trip to the "Bloody Ridge" battlefield, where some of the fiercest combat in the Pacific theater took place between American and Japanese forces in September 1942.

He then left for Honolulu, where he will visit U.S. Pacific Command headquarters Wednesday night.


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