United States and Japan encouraged to proactively develop UXO impact scheme in the Pacific
A scheme to assist those impacted by UXO in the Pacific should be proactively developed by former World War 2 rivals, USA and Japan.
Solomon Islands made the statement during the US- Pacific Discussion in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Monday.
Addressing the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken who co-chaired the discussion with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, Minister of Finance and Treasury, Harry Kuma said, Pacific Islands nations littered by WW2 remains (UXO) are “anxious” to see US and Japan lead the UXO impact scheme.
“There is a serious danger posed by unexploded ordnances (UXO) in Solomon Islands and we are anxious to see the UXO programme with HALO Trust and the US Department of Defence commence as soon as practicable. The United States and Japan should proactively further develop a scheme to assist those impacted by UXO in the Pacific,” Minister Kuma stated.
He explained, the 80 year World War II ammunition is becoming more fragile and is maiming and claiming lives in Solomon Islands, including affecting accessibility to land development, polluting undersea heritage and other socio-economic development of Solomon Islanders.
Meanwhile, Solomon Islands welcomed the US- Pacific Declaration of Partnership….. “We welcome US commitment under the 2050 Strategy of the Blue Pacific Continent.”
Solomon Islands also welcome the reopening of the United States of America’s Embassy in Honiara this year and look forward to continuing working with the United States in strengthening relations between the two nations.
Minister Kuma further acknowledged the US Agency for International Development (USAID) five year USD 25 million programme that began in 2020. The programme covered areas such as Strengthening Competitiveness, Agriculture, Livelihood and Environment (SCALE).
He adds, Solomon Islands is grateful for the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Threshold Program signed last year focusing on unlocking wealth from within the country in the Forestry and Tourism sectors.
Minister Kuma encouraged the US to keep working under the 2050 Strategy to eradicate poverty in the region and construct a more stable and prosperous region.
“Solomon Islands remains a Least Developed Country and seeks more partnership to structurally boost the country with transformative infrastructure and unlocking more renewable energy potentials to realize the country’s prosperity.”
On climate change, the Solomon Islands Minister of Finance said, taking stronger mitigation action in the energy sector is inline with the vision of the Pacific in building a resilient Pacific.
The US is encouraged to adopt stronger trade arrangements with Pacific states to further integrate regional economies and open up opportunities for Pacific products to enter the US market.
Solomon Islands is also finalizing work on the Peace Corp Agreement.
Minister Kuma said following the success of last year’s visit, Solomon Islands is indebted to the US government for accepting its request for the return of the USNS Mercy to provide support during the November Pacific Games, said Minister Kuma.
As it progresses forward with its engagement with the US, Solomon Islands will not deviate but uphold its Foreign Policy of “friends to all, and enemies to none,” engaging directly with its partners, deriving meaningful and tangible cooperation outcomes.