BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
THE Australian High Commission in Honiara has snubbed media talk that Australia is planning to set up a naval base in Solomon Islands.
This is in response to an article by veteran Journalist Alfred Sasako in the Island Sun yesterday which claimed that Australia was planning to build a naval base in the western border of Solomon Islands.
The High Commission said, “The Australian High Commission advises that claims in the article ‘Australia to build a naval base in Solomon Islands’ (The Island Sun on Wednesday 7 August 2019) are incorrect.”
The High Commission explained that it had commented to queries by Sasako that “Australia listens closely to the concerns of the Solomon Islands Government”.
“We are working very closely with the Government to assist its work to strengthen border security arrangements.
“Any claims about building an Australian naval base are incorrect.” The Australian High Commission asserts.
“Australia however, is working with Solomon Islands on infrastructure at Aola Base wharf in Honiara.
“This will support the operations of the Solomon Islands’ Guardian-class Patrol Boats, which will be delivered in late 2019 and mid-2021.”
Sasako’s article had reported yesterday that the ‘secret’ plan to build a naval base in the Solomon Islands was a knee-jerk reaction to China’s growing influence in the Pacific.
He alleged that part of the $1.4 billion promised by Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, during his visit earlier this year to the Solomons, would go towards this military undertaking.
Sasako adds that the United States is also likely to assist in the cost of construction.