Sydney, Australia, Sep 28 (EFE).- Solomon Islands leader Manasseh Sogavare has slammed Washington for lecturing Pacific leaders, justifying his absence from a high-level regional summit with US President Joe Biden.
Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Damukana Sogavare in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 14 August 2017. EFE-EPA FILE/MICK TSIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
“I attended one [US-Pacific Island Forum Leaders Summit, last year]. Nothing came out of it,” Prime Minister Sogavare said at a news conference Wednesday in Honiara.
“I’m not going to sit down there and listen to people lecture me, no way” Sogavare said, adding that at Washington summits “they give you three minutes to talk and then you go and listen to them lecture you, lecture you, about how good they are.”
He said the US needs to show more respect to Pacific leaders.
“They must change their strategies,” Sogavare said in statements broadcast on the YouTube channel of the Solomon Islands news outlet Tavuli News.
Sogavare, who also said he was prioritizing domestic issues, was explaining why he did not attend the summit held on Sep. 25 and 26 in Washington between Biden and around 20 South Pacific leaders, following his attendance at the United Nations General Assembly.
The prime minister said that the Solomon Islands was represented by Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele in this second summit, which followed another held last year in which Washington presented its strategy for the Pacific and committed some $800 million of assistance to island nations over a decade.
The Sogavare government – which severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in 2019 in favor of Beijing – has been under strong regional and international scrutiny since it signed a security pact with China, which was negotiated opaquely and includes the sending in of Chinese law enforcement forces at Honiara’s request.
Since then, Washington and its Western allies been trying to regain their influence in the once neglected South Pacific region to counter China, a country that has redoubled its diplomatic presence, as well as cooperation in defense, security and infrastructure development.
The South Pacific – one of the focuses of geopolitical competition between Washington and Beijing – is part of the area of influence of the Aukus pact signed between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States in September 2021, which included Canberra’s acquisition and development of nuclear-powered submarines. EFE