Solomon Islands bans all naval vessels from ports until a new operation begins

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 follows an incident last week when the US Coast Guard vessel, Oliver Henry, was unable to make a routine port call 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 by his office.

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

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

The statement said it had also confirmed delays in approving entry to the British navy ship Spy, which had also aborted its voyage to the planned port.

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It added that as a result of the two incidents, Solomon Islands is reviewing its 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

Oliver Henry was patrolling South Pacific poaching for the Regional Fisheries Agency at the time it sought entry to refuel in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon. 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.”

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

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