Fri, Aug 02, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Solomon Islands mulling task force visit, ministry says

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

The logo and name of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are pictured in Taipei on March 3.

Photo: Lu Yi-hsuen, Taipei Times

The Solomon Islands is mulling whether to form a task force to visit Taiwan, in addition to one that has visited Pacific nations that have diplomatic ties with Beijing, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said yesterday.

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, who was re-elected in April, told the media after his win that his government was reassessing its foreign relations.

According to a report published by the lsland Sun at the end of last month, Beijing told Honoria that “the window of opportunity for meaningful engagement is closing fast.”

At a Belt and Road Initiative forum in Xining, China, last month, the Solomon Islands-China Friendship Association was told about Beijing’s intentions, the newspaper said.

“The battle between Chinese and Australian influence in the Pacific continues unabated,” the report said, adding — citing a Chinese professor — that the nations have different priorities regarding aid programs in the region.

The Chinese embassy in Port Moreseby, Papua New Guinea, confirmed that a Solomon Islands task force is to visit Beijing and Taipei this month, the report said.

The ministry has repeatedly said that ties with Honiara remain solid, while acknowledging that there are differing stances within the Solomon Islands government.

Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Director-General Baushuan Ger (葛葆萱) yesterday said that since June 25, a Solomon Islands task force has visited four nations in the Pacific and would visit Papua New Guinea.

The ministry has yet to confirm whether the task force is to visit Taiwan, but confirmed that Solomon Islands officials are deliberating whether to form a second task force to visit Taipei, he said.

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