SOLOMONS PM SOGAVARE WARNS TAIWAN

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (October 19, 2000 – Radio Australia)---The Solomon Islands government has indicated it may end diplomatic ties with Taiwan, in favor of the People’s Republic of China.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said his government has exhausted all discussions with Taiwan regarding additional aid funding and has decided to go elsewhere.

His statement follows a secret trip to Hong Kong to meet Mainland China officials by Foreign Minister Danny Philip.

The AFP news agency reports that a government spokesman said the prime minister is desperate to find financial sources to bail out the government from its financial woes.

However, the director of the Solomon Islands Government Information Unit, Alfred Maesulia, said that the government will retain its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

The Solomon Islands is one of just 29 countries which holds diplomatic relations with Taipei instead of Beijing.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

 

SOLOMONS PM DEFENDS HIS FOREIGN MINISTER

By Duran Angiki

GIZO, Solomon Islands (October 18, 2000 – Wantok Press/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Conflicting statements from the Solomon Islands prime minister over the secret visit by his foreign affairs minister to Beijing has kept people in the dark about the government’s real position.

Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, late last week, issued a media statement warning that he had not ruled out "removing the minister."

The statement was in response to Foreign Minister Danny Philip abandoning an official visit to Taiwan on arrival in Brisbane.

Instead of meeting the Taiwan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Wu Tze-dan, Philip flew to Hong Kong and secretly held talks with middlemen reportedly from Mainland China.

Following the embarrassment to the Taiwan government, the prime minister warned that he would take action against his minister.

Sogavare later assured the Republic of China’s delegation in the Solomon Islands national capital, Honiara, of the country’s allegiance to Taiwan.

But later the prime minister defended his minister’s action.

In a media report on Monday, he said, "We have exhausted all discussions with Taiwan so we have decided to go elsewhere."

A Solomon Islands government spokesman said the foreign minister has been negotiating with Mainland China’s middlemen for a financial package of US$ 200 million.

The spokesman said the prime minister is desperate to find financial sources to bail out the government from its current financial woes caused by the 21-month ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal.

"We are kept in the dark about this whole issue," said a spokesman in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Honiara.

"The PM is handling the issue now and we don’t really know the government position as of this afternoon."

The Cabinet has held several meetings with the foreign minister but no official statement has been released about the outcome.

The head of the Solomon Islands Government Information Unit, Alfred Maesulia, said the government still retains its diplomatic relationship with Taiwan.

The Cabinet found that the minister of foreign affairs had only reached Hong Kong and not Beijing as earlier reported by local and overseas media.

He said the government might not change Philip as the minister of foreign affairs, but if it retained him, it would not send him on any official visit to Taiwan.

Title -- 3050 SOLOMON IS: PM defends his foreign affairs minister Date -- 18 October 2000 Byline -- Duran Angiki Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Wantok Press, angiki_dp@solomon.com.sb,  18/10/00 Copyright – WP Status -- Unabridged

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