Solomon Islands to ban all foreign navy ships from ports pending new approval process

“We have asked our partners to give us time to review and come up with our new processes, before submitting further requests for military ships to enter the country,” Prime Minister Mannesseh Sogavare said. in a statement.

“These will apply generally to all visiting naval vessels,” he said in a statement his office emailed to Reuters.

Sogavare added that he wants to build national capacity to police the Pacific island nation’s exclusive economic zones.

In a speech Tuesday afternoon to welcome the visiting U.S. Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy, Sogavare said last week’s delay for Oliver Henry was due to the fact that information had not been delivered to his office. he is on time.

He also confirmed the delay in approving entry for the British naval vessel HMS Spey, which also canceled its scheduled call, the statement said.

As a result of the two incidents, the Solomon Islands is reviewing approval procedures.

Earlier, the US Embassy in Canberra, the Australian capital, said that the Solomon Islands had announced a ban on naval ships from entering its ports.

“On August 29, the United States received official notice from the Solomon Islands authorities suspending all naval visits, pending an update in protocol procedures,” the embassy said. know in a statement.

China seeks influence in South Pacific with security proposal and diplomatic tour

The embassy said Mercy arrived ahead of the embargo, adding that it was monitoring the situation.

The Solomon Islands have had a strained relationship with the US and its allies since reaching a security deal with China this year.

Oliver Henry was patrolling illegal fishing in the South Pacific for a regional fisheries agency when the agency was attempting to refuel in Honiara, the capital of the Solomons.

On Monday, a spokesman for the US State Department called the lack of a license for Oliver Henry “regrettable”, saying the US was pleased that Mercy had received the permit.

Separately, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said it was regrettable that “we have seen the Chinese try to bully and coerce countries across the Indo-Pacific to do do their bidding and serve what they believe their selfish national security interests are” rather than the broader interests of a free and open Indo-Pacific. “

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