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Solomon’s Leader Misses White House Summit to Dodge ‘Lectures’

Solomon Islands has recently joined the Beijing-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manesseh Sogavare boycotted a Pacific leaders meeting in the United States because he did not want to be “lectured.”

The Pacific leader, who has continued to build ties with Beijing since severing ties with Taiwan, missed the meeting despite being in New York for a United Nations speech last Friday.
In a video circulated by Solomon Islands media, Mr. Sogavare said it was more important for him to deal with a “stack of bills” back home.

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“I’ve attended one, nothing came out of it. And I am not going to sit down there and listen to people lecture me. No way,” he said.

Mr. Sogavare called on the United States to change its strategy of engaging with Pacific leaders.

“How this meeting is arranged is you go and sit down, they give you three minutes for talk and then you go and listen to them lecture you, lecture you about how good they are.”

United States Disappointed

United States officials were pleased with the overall attendance at the summit but expressed dismay at Mr. Sogavare’s decision.

The summit, the second of its kind, included a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden. Attendees included Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape and Cook Islands leader Mark Brown.

“He has been in New York this week but is returning to the Solomons over the weekend,” a senior Biden administration official said.

“And I think we’re disappointed that he has chosen not to come to this very special [Pacific Island Forum or PIF] Summit between the United States and the Pacific Island nations.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets with the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare in Canberra, Australia on Oct. 6, 2022. (Martin Ollman/Getty Images)
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese meets with the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare in Canberra, Australia on Oct. 6, 2022. (Martin Ollman/Getty Images)

Mr. Sogavare spoke to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday.

On Tuesday, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) headquartered in Beijing welcomed the Solomon Islands as a member.

The board of governors approved the application of three economies—Solomon Islands, Tanzania, and El Salvador—at a meeting in Egypt.

“The addition of El Salvador, Solomon Islands, and Tanzania strengthens the AIIB community and supports our collective mission to finance infrastructure for tomorrow,” the Bank said in a statement.
In July this year, Mr. Sogavare travelled to Beijing where he signed multiple deals with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Mr. Sogavare also attacked Australia and New Zealand for delaying millions of dollars of funding for the Solomon Island. He claimed Beijing had come to the rescue.

“Some of our donor partners who have committed to providing budget support to us this year have since changed their position and delayed their assistance for us, and we are struggling to finance the 2023 budget,” he said at the time.

“This has left this country and people in a predicament. But I am glad to announce and delighted to announce the People’s Republic of China has really stepped up to provide this budget support needed for 2023.”

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