The Solomon Islands government has notified the United States that it has decided to temporarily ban US Navy ships from entering the country’s ports. This was reported by Reuters and Agence France-Presse on Tuesday, referring to the US embassy in Australia. Relations between the United States and the Solomon Islands soured after the island’s government signed a security pact this year with China, which is seeking to significantly expand its influence in the Pacific region.
Last week, US Coast Guard vessel Oliver Henry was denied a routine port visit in the Solomon Islands. The American ship requested the possibility of refueling and replenishment, but the government in Honiara did not respond to its request.
“On Monday, August 29, the United States received formal notification from the Government of the Solomon Islands regarding the cessation of all US Navy vessel visits,” the US Embassy in Australia said in a statement.
The Solomon Islands government later said in a statement emailed to Reuters that it had asked “all partner countries to suspend scheduled naval visits and patrols to Solomon Islands ports to review the operation.”
The Solomon Islands are located about 2,000 kilometers northeast of Australia and are home to about 700,000 people. The island nation’s signing of a security agreement with China in April has raised concerns about the possibility of establishing a Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands in the future. But the islands’ prime minister, Mansi Sogavari, ruled it out in July.