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Kerry Praises Past and Present Ties with Solomon Islands

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry waves to bid farewell in Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014.

Secretary of State John Kerry has landed in the Solomon Islands, where he commemorated the nation's cooperation with Allied forces in World War II.

After flying into the capital, Honiara, on Wednesday, Kerry laid a wreath at a memorial to Solomon Islanders who assisted in the fight against Japanese forces.

The Solomon Islands witnessed intense fighting between Japan and the U.S., including the battle that left future President John F. Kennedy stranded on an atoll. Kennedy and his crew, whose patrol boat had sunk, was rescued with the help of two Solomon Islanders, the last of whom died earlier this month at the age of 93.

Kerry said the two countries are still tied together "in many, many ways" and enjoy "great, great ties." He also expressed hope that elections expected for later this year will help "put the pieces together for the future" for the tiny island nation, which has experienced years of unrest.

The top U.S. diplomat arrived in Honiara from Sydney, where he and Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel held annual security talks with Australian officials. Both leaders also took part in a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

During the Asia tour, Kerry and Hagel have insisted the U.S. will continue its military and strategic rebalance toward the Pacific. They are trying to allay concerns among some allies who have questioned the U.S. commitment to the region.

Kerry and Hagel have also downplayed accusations that the Asia "pivot" is meant to contain China, as many in Beijing claim. Kerry said Tuesday the U.S. does not want "conflict and confrontation" with China, but hopes Beijing can become a "cooperative partner" on the global stage.