Australia says navy can visit Solomon Islands

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Australia said on Tuesday its navy ships have been given clearance to resume visits to the Solomon Islands, which had last week announced a temporary block on all military vessels during a review of its approval processes.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong confirmed to reporters that military ships from New Zealand and Fiji would also be allowed to visit the South Pacific nation.


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But that means military ships from the US, Britain and other countries still won’t be able to dock at a time when many Pacific nations are alarmed about the Solomon Islands increasing security ties to China.

“Of course, we welcome the continued access of a member of the Pacific family — in this case, Australia — to Solomon Islands waters,” Wong told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Asked if she was disappointed the US wasn’t also given an exemption, Wong said the Solomon Islands had indicated it was making its decisions on a case-by-case basis.

“They are a sovereign nation and that’s a matter for them,” Wong told the broadcaster. “What I would say is that the US has a long history of presence in the Pacific, going back to World War II.”

The move comes ahead of a visit to Australia by Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.

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