MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Jeremiah Manele, led government discussions with the visiting Inter-agency delegation from the White House led by the Deputy Assistant to the President and Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, National Security Council, Dr. Kurt Campbell.
The Solomon Islands-United States Inter-Agency High Level Strategic Dialogue was held at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday morning with participation by various Solomon Islands Government Ministries on the current SI-US cooperation and bilateral assistance to Solomon Islands.
The government acknowledged the opening of the United States (US) of America’s Embassy this year in Honiara and awaits further advice on the appointment of the US Head of Mission to Solomon Islands.
It registered with the US delegation its interest to see greater focus paid on transformative projects, particularly renewable energy infrastructure projects, that will drive economic growth and prosperity in the provinces.
The government expressed that it stands ready to work with the United States as it manages its friends and partners in an open and transparent manner.
It also thanked the United States for the ongoing support in UXO (unexploded ordnance) clearance and mapping survey.
“We are concerned that the recent seismic activities under water will destabilise sunken vessels and UXO under water increasing risks to the environment. We therefore, seek specialised support to assess the state of the sunken vessels and UXO in the Iron Bottom Sound, the government stated.
The government said it seeks the collaborative effort of both Japan and US to remove and address the UXO issue.
On people-to-people partnership, the government said Solomon Islands acknowledges with appreciation the confirmation of the deployment of US Navy Hospital Ship Mercy to Solomon Islands to coincide with the country’s hosting of the 2023 Pacific Games from 19 November through to 2 December 2023.
“In our view there is no better demonstration of the Pacific partnership programme than a deployment during the Pacific Games when all 24 Pacific countries and territories are in one single location [in Solomon Islands] to support their health and wellbeing.
“We look forward to the arrival of the first planning mission at the end of the month,” the government stated.
The government further reiterated that Solomon Islands remains a close friend of the US and looks forward to strengthening the good relations between the two states.