Conflicts & War

Solomon Islands temporarily suspends US’ naval visits

Sydney, Australia, Aug 30 (EFE).- The Solomon Islands temporarily suspended all naval visits by the United States amid escalating tensions in the Pacific region as a result of a security agreement it signed with China in April, diplomatic sources said on Tuesday.

“On August 29, the United States received formal notification from the Government of Solomon Islands regarding a moratorium on all naval visits, pending updates in protocol procedures,” a spokesperson of the US embassy in Australia said in a statement.

This measure comes after Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sovagare’s government denied diplomatic clearance to the US Coast Guard vessel Oliver Henry on Aug. 23 to refuel and stock up in Honiara.

Oliver Henry, which headed to Papua New Guinea after failing to gain entry at Honiara, is in the region to support the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the high seas.

Shortly before the Solomon Islands imposed the moratorium, the US Navy hospital ship Mercy arrived in Honiara on Aug. 29 as part of a humanitarian mission in the Pacific, alongside Australian and US officials.

Washington said in the statement that it will continue to “closely monitor the situation” regarding the moratorium, which has not yet been announced on government websites or social media by the Sogavare administration.

“Why is the Prime Minister so anti US and allies? There is no rational explanation nor in our national interest to justify this treatment of the US & its allies. It is clear the Prime Minister is pro-China but there is no need to be hostile or adversarial to other democracies,” Solomon Islands opposition leader Mathew Wale said in remarks published by the Solomon Star newspaper on Sunday.

In 2019, Sogavare changed his alliance with Taiwan in favor of China, raising concerns about the stability of the strategic Pacific region.

The controversial agreement, negotiated in an opaque manner, opens the door for the Solomon Islands to seek Chinese assistance in security matters as it does with Australia and New Zealand.

Although Sogavare has said that his country is a friend of all and enemy to none, his decision has put the US, Australia and New Zealand, as well as other Pacific nations, on alert amid China’s growing influence.

The US, Australia and New Zealand have stepped up engagement with the Pacific region and cooperation in efforts to mitigate the impact of the climate crisis on many of these island nations. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button