Gov’t official confirms move to open new diplomatic missions in India and UAE as Honiara pushes forward with its Look North policy
SOLOMON Islands is opening new diplomatic missions in India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in what is clearly the nation’s new push in the Look North policy.
Foreign Affairs and External Trade Permanent Secretary, Colin Beck, confirmed the move to Solomon Star yesterday following a news conference in Honiara.
Solomon Islands’ foreign policy as of 2008 was described by the Solomon Islands government as a “look north” policy, aimed at “strengthening diplomatic and economic relations with Asian countries for development purposes.”
The confirmation by Permanent Secretary Beck of establishing two new missions comes as Solomon Islands prepares to appoint a new Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) this year.
“Work has already started in establishing Solomon Islands’ resident High Commission in India,” Mr Beck said.
“We are also opening a new mission in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which will focus on trade,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary also confirmed that Solomon Islands’ Embassy in Cuba is being closed down.
“It is not quite closed yet but closure of the Embassy is under consideration,” Mr Beck said, when asked of the move.
It is understood Solomon Islands’ first and only Ambassador to Cuba, Simeon Bouro, is being recalled. It is unclear whether Solomon Islands would continue to send students for medical training in Cuba.
It is also understood that Ambassador Bouro’s name is on the shortlist for the Ambassador’s job in Beijing, although this is not officially confirmed.
Solomon Islands formally established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cuba in 2002 and in 2007 signed cooperation agreements for Cuban doctors to work in Solomon Islands and for Solomon Islands medical students to train in Cuba.
By September 2021, more than 90 students graduated from, according to published reports.
“I wish to offer my deep thanks to Cuba for the training of our medical students. More than ninety Solomon Islands medical doctors have graduated from Cuban medical schools and we expect this number to increase,” Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare said then.
“We note with concern the 60-year-old economic embargo imposed on Cuba remains in place and we reiterate the call for the lifting of the embargo within the spirit and purposes of the United Nations Charter,” Mr Sogavare said.
India and UAE will bring to 14 the number of countries Solomon Islands has established diplomatic relations with, according to published report.
By Alfred Sasako