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Solomon Islands bans all US Navy visits

Solomon Islands bans all US Navy visits

Beijing, 2019: Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sokaware (left), and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the signing ceremony of the draft defense agreement.
Image: dpa

The Solomon Islands recently refused entry to a US Coast Guard vessel, presumably at China’s request. Now the Pacific island nation has banned all US naval voyages.

VIn the context of China’s influence in the South Pacific Solomon Islands Tensions continue to rise between the island nation and the United States. The Solomon Islands government has now announced that it will no longer allow US Navy visits to the United States, following the termination of a controversial defense deal with China a few months ago. The government in Washington was told on Monday by authorities in the Solomon Islands that “all naval visits have been suspended until ethical procedures are updated,” a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Canberra, Australia, said.

A week ago, authorities in the capital Honiara refused routine calls for the US Coast Guard ship USCG Oliver Henry to dock there to refuel and take on supplies. Had to go to Papua New Guinea instead. According to the announcement, the America “Disappointment” was shown at the end. The Coast Guard vessel is part of US efforts to crack down on illegal fishing in the area. The statement said the United States has a long-standing commitment to the region and is responding to the needs of the people of the Solomon Islands.

However, the spokesman was pleased that the US hospital ship USNS Mercy, which was approved earlier for its port entry ban, was able to dock in Honiara on Monday as scheduled for the start of a two-week humanitarian mission. The US has now announced that it will continue to monitor the situation.

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Solomon Islands relations have been troubling for months China to tensions with the United States and its Pacific allies. A defense pact was signed between the Pacific island nation and China, which the US fears could lead to the deployment of warships and troops. It was the first such defense deal in the South Pacific and was seen as a victory in Beijing’s bid for influence in the strategically important region. This is China’s first permanent military presence in the South Pacific Islands. Washington, Canberra and Wellington asked Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavere not to sign the agreement.