SOLOMONS SEEK TO DIFFUSE TAIWAN TIFF

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 10) - The Solomon Islands Government yesterday distanced itself from comments made by its ambassador to Taiwan against a senior parliamentarian. 

The comments, by Solomon Islands Ambassador Seth Gukuna, have led to threats to block Taipei’s aid to the small Pacific nation.

Mr Gukuna recently criticized veteran Taiwan Member of Parliament Parris Chang over an article he wrote criticizing the alleged dollar diplomacy practiced by the South Pacific island State of Nauru.

But the Solomons Islands Foreign Affairs Department has said that Gukuna acted alone, without receiving from Honiara any direction or instruction to criticize Mr Chang’s comments.

"The Department of Foreign Affairs considers the criticism from Gukuna inappropriate and regrettable," a foreign affairs official said here yesterday.

"We wish to reaffirm our strong relations with the government and people of the Republic of China and disassociate ourselves from Gukuna’s damaging statement," the official said.

Each year at the United Nations General Assembly, Solomon Islands sponsors a resolution calling for the official recognition of Taiwan by the world body.

In the newspaper article, Mr Chang criticized Nauru for establishing diplomatic ties with China. Gukuna subsequently lashed out at Chang, accusing him of harboring "persistent negative views" against Pacific countries. Chang responded by threatening to lobby against development assistance to the Solomon Islands.

"If Gukuna does not apologize, I will block the aid budget for the Solomon Islands in the legislature’s next session," Mr Chang said.

September 11, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

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