Forum respects controversial Sino-SI security agreement
By EDDIE OSIFELO
PACIFIC Islands Forum Secretary General Henry Puna respects the controversial security agreement Solomon Islands signed with China in April 2022.
Speaking to media in a joint press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Jeremiah Manele, in Honiara yesterday, Puna said the security arrangement between a country and a partner outside of the region is an exclusive jurisdiction and domain of a sovereign government.
“And I have made known to people who want to interfere and imposed their own views, that this is a sovereign issue for the Solomon Islands.
“I respect that and I respect the sovereignty of your government to enter into bilateral arrangement with any country,” he added.
Puna said as Small Island States, they have a common approach in Foreign Policy and that is ‘We are friends to all and enemy to no one’.
“We cannot afford to take a different position because we need all the help we can get.
“But in doing that, we need to be cautious in any potential pitfalls in such an arrangement,” he said.
Puna is a former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, from November 2010 to October 2020, and a staunch supporter of China.
“I have to tell you that I am a good friend of China.
“In fact, when I am becoming the Prime Minister, I only have one policy in my foreign policy. And that sentence was, I would support the One China Policy,” he said.
“And, I tell China has been a good development partner for the Cook Islands and that has been the case until now.
“So, I respect the decision taken by the Solomon Islands,” he added.
Apart from that, Puna has chosen Solomon Islands as a first stop-over in his tour to inform the government, officials, civil societies and private sectors of the Forum’s issues and programmes.
He left the country yesterday, on the way to another Forum country.