The prime minister of the Solomon Islands has denied that his failure to attend the formal ceremonies of the Guadalcanal War last week was a snub to the United States.
Last week the 80th anniversary of the World War II battle in the Solomon Islands was held and attended by US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman, along with cabinet ministers from Japan and New Zealand.
Mr Sogovare said in a statement that the government was well represented at all events over three days marking the anniversary at ministerial levels.
The statement said claims of a snub were misleading and lacked understanding of protocols applied at such events.
Mr Sogavare’s failure to attend the ceremonies was pasted all over the local dailies however his office said this was not the case.
Meanwhile, Ms Sherman labelled this as Mr Sogavare having missed an important opportunity.
When approached by media, Ms Sherman declined to say whether she considered the prime minister’s absence a snub.
Instead she said that the Solomon Islands prime minister will have to answer to his own citizens about why he made the choice.
“I said to the prime minister directly that I was so sorry that obviously his schedule did not allow him to come because he missed an important opportunity,” Ms Sherman told Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“This was a place where international leaders gathered to say that the work with Solomon Islanders, at the time of World War II, was decisive in victory, in ensuring freedom and democracy.”
Solomon Islands and China’s relationship is said to be becoming stronger and the so called snub could easily be part of that. Mr Sogavare is not the first Pacific leader to do such a thing.
Fijian prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama has at times opted not to attend invites by Australia and United States but seems to avail himself at every Chinese event.
History shows that China was the only nation that came in with aid and financial support following the 2006 coup in Fiji.
It was a time when Australia and New Zealand had pulled out of Fiji and stopped all aid. Fiji then deepened their relationship with China allowing the superpower to have a stronger foothold in the Pacific. The Solomon Islands has also gone this way.
The Pacific is being closely watched by all superpowers. The riches are in the Pacific and in the case of a conflict, the Pacific’s choice of friend could easily decide which was the balance of power swings.