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Solomon Islands bans naval vessels from ports until a new process is in place

Solomon Islands bans naval vessels from ports until a new process is in place

Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavari, delivers a remote address to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly via pre-recorded video in New York City, US, September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Pool

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Solomon Islands has suspended the entry of foreign naval vessels into its waters pending a new process for approving port visits, in a bid to better monitor its exclusive economy, the Prime Minister’s Office said on Tuesday. Regions.

The move followed an incident last week when the US Coast Guard vessel, Oliver Henry, was unable to make a routine call to the port because the government did not respond to its request for refueling and supplies.

“We have asked our partners to give us time to review and implement our new procedures before sending further requests for military vessels to enter the country,” Prime Minister Maniseh Sogavary said in a statement.

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

Sugavari added that he wants to build a national capacity to monitor the Pacific island nation’s exclusive economic zones.

The statement said that the Solomon Islands had experienced unfortunate experiences of foreign naval vessels that entered the country’s waters during the year without obtaining a diplomatic permit.

The suspension of naval vessel visits will be lifted when a new operation is implemented.

In a speech on Tuesday afternoon to welcome the visiting US hospital ship Mercy, Sogavary said the delay on the Oliver Henry was due to information not being sent to his office on time.

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Approval procedures

He also confirmed the delay in approving the entry of the British Navy ship Spy that aborted the planned port voyage, and that Solomon Islands is reviewing the approval procedures.

Earlier, the US embassy in the Australian capital, Canberra, said that the Solomon Islands informed it to stop the entry of Navy ships to its ports.

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

Al-Rahma arrived before the stay, the embassy said, adding that it is monitoring the situation.

The Solomon Islands has had a tense relationship with the United States and its allies since a security pact was struck with China this year. Read more

Beijing and Honiara have said there will be no Chinese military base, although a leaked draft notes the refurbishment of Chinese Navy ships in the strategically located archipelago.

Oliver Henry and HMS Spey were on patrol for poaching in the South Pacific for the Regional Fisheries Agency at the time they sought entry to refuel in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon. Read more

The United States in July announced plans to combat illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean, as part of increased American engagement with the region to counter China’s growing influence. Read more

On Monday, a US State Department spokesperson called Oliver Henry’s lack of authorization “unfortunate,” saying the United States was pleased that Mercy had received approval.

Separately, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said it was unfortunate that “we’ve seen the Chinese attempt to intimidate and coerce nations throughout the Indo-Pacific to make their claims and serve what they believe their selfish national security interests are, rather than the broader interests of the Oceans region.” Indian and Pacific free and open.”

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham in Sydney and Michael Martina in Washington); Editing by Himani Sarkar and Clarence Fernandez

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