Solomon Islands Prime Minister Says Foreign Military Sites ‘Never’ Allowed | New
Manasseh Sogavare said he would not do anything that undermines national security or undermines regional stability.
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has said foreign military installations will never be established in his country, an apparent reference to a security pact he signed with China earlier this year.
Sogavare made the comments during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Canberra on Thursday, the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) reported.
“The Solomon Islands will do nothing that will undermine its own national security and compromise the security of any or all of the Forum (Pacific Island) countries,” Sogavare said, according to an SIBC report on Friday.
“The Solomon Islands will never be used for foreign military installations or institutions of foreign countries,” the prime minister said.
“About China, it’s a sensitive issue that we discussed and I assured Australia when I met Anthony Albanese yesterday that we will not allow that to happen,” Sogavare said in a response. written to questions sent by the AFP news agency.
Earlier, Sogavare said China would be allowed to build docks and airports, which could be useful for both civilian and military purposes.
Australia, the United States and New Zealand had expressed growing concern that the security pact would lead to China establishing a military outpost on their doorstep in the Pacific region.
Tensions between Honiara and Canberra rose more recently when Sogavare slammed a bid from Australia to fund the Solomons’ upcoming election. Australia offered to fund the election to avoid a delay in voting, which Sogavare said would be necessary because the country was unable to fund the Pacific Games and an election in the same year.
Sogavare blasted Canberra’s offer as interference, but then later accepted it.
“Friends of all and enemies of no one”
In a joint statement released by Albanese’s office after their meeting on Thursday, the leaders said they discussed bilateral relations, the climate crisis and “shared aspirations for a peaceful, prosperous and resilient Pacific”.
Sogavare’s visit to Australia also follows shortly after US President Joe Biden and 14 Pacific island states issued a joint statement to strengthen their partnership amid Washington’s offer of hundreds of millions in new aid for the region.
The statement was announced following a high-profile two-day summit in Washington between US and Pacific Islander leaders that analysts said was an attempt by the US to stem China’s growing influence. among island nations.
This week, Solomon Islands Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele said he had been “uncomfortable” with indirect references to China in a draft US-Pacific partnership statement.
The Solomon Islands endorsed the document after indicating earlier that it would not sign the declaration.
Sogavare told the United Nations in September that his country had been “vilified” for its relationship with Beijing.
The SIBC report released on Friday noted that the prime minister said his national development plan for the Solomon Islands was based on a “foreign policy of friends of all and foes of no one”.