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Solomon Islands claims that Australia and New Zealand are exempt from the voluntary ban on offshore vessels.

Prime Minister Maniseh Sogavari said foreign military ships that respond to a request for assistance from the Solomon Islands government will also be exempted.

The Solomon Islands signed a security agreement with China in April, a leaked draft it says would allow the Chinese navy to resupply Honiara, alarming states, Australia and New Zealand about China’s growing influence.

Last week, Mr. Sugavari announced a halt to the entry of foreign Navy ships into the port following incidents in which a US Coast Guard vessel and a British Navy vessel on an illegal fishing patrol failed to refuel Honiara.

Asked by opposition MPs about the moratorium, Mr. Sugavari said the naval vessels deployed are under the auspices of the Solomon Islands International Assistance Force (SIIAF), a treaty under which Australia, New Zealand and Fiji will be exempted from working with the Solomon Islands police.

“Military ships deployed under the SIIAF are therefore exempted during the moratorium,” he said.

The United States, which plans to open an embassy in Honiara, said it was informed on August 29 of a moratorium on all foreign naval vessels.

A month ago, the United States pledged to increase its aid and strengthen monitoring of illegal fishing in the Pacific Ocean in an effort to counter China’s growing presence.

Sogavari said the Cabinet decided to impose a freeze on military ships after considering the “benefits and risks to the Solomon Islands from any visit by military ships,” adding that the suspension was not aimed at the United States.

“We are not targeting the United States of America,” he said.

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He said the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Britain had taken part in illegal fishing patrols and that his office needed to learn more about incoming ships.

L’Agence des pches du Forum, qui est base Honiara et reprsente les nations insulaires du Pacifique possdant de riches stocks de thon, devrait informer son bureau des navires de la marine qui prennent part aux patrouilles de surveillance pour obtenir une exemption, at -says .

“We don’t know who the hell is going to come,” he added.

Foreign Minister Jeremiah Manele said a report on the matter was expected by the end of next week.

Tensions are rising in the Solomon Islands as constitutional changes aimed at delaying general elections are expected to pass to Parliament this week.

Australia issued a travel warning on Saturday about the risks of civil unrest as Parliament considers “important legislation”.

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