Solomon PM prioritizes domestic issues over meeting with US President Biden at the US Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting in Washington
Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare revealed that he chose to prioritize pressing ‘domestic issues’ over attending the US Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting.
The Prime Minister’s absence from the international gathering has come under heavy scrutiny with commentators portraying Sogavare as favoring China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a slap in the geopolitical battle between the West and the East. But in a press conference upon his arrival, Sogavare said he desired to address crucial legislative matters rather than spending time at the Leaders gathering.
“There is actually 10 weeks left before parliament dissolves, and we have a lot of bills, and I am not clear what bills are to go before parliament. I will be briefed tomorrow about them.” These legislative matters, he emphasised, hold greater importance to him as the Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands.
Sogavare strongly expressed that he attended a similar meeting last year, and nothing came out of that one. I am not to go and sit down at the meeting and listen to them lecture me. No. You know how it is arranged? It needs now for them to respect Pacific leaders and leaders everywhere. They must change their strategies. How these meetings are arranged, they will give you three minutes to talk and then you go and listen to them lecture you about how good they are.”
Sogavare also touched on the issue of promised aid from the United States, stating, “The US has promised 800 billion but to date, there is nothing to show for it.” He implied that other global leaders had shown more respect for Pacific Island leaders, citing instances where leaders like Albanese, the Korean President, and Xi Jinping had allotted him an hour for dialogue. “They treat us like leaders,” Sogavare added, “Not to put us in a classroom-like setting and lecture us.”
The Prime Minister reiterated that Solomon Islands is adequately represented at the meeting by the Foreign Affairs Minister Jeremiah Manele. Sogavare emphasized that the Foreign Affairs Minister is accorded the same respect as the Prime Minister and is well-equipped to represent the Solomon Islands government at the event. He debunked any claims that Solomon Islands was not adequately represented, stating, “To say that Solomon Islands is not represented at the meeting is wrong.”