5 May 2006

Solomon Islands new government happy with Taiwan for now

3:12 pm on 5 May 2006

The newly elected prime minister of Solomon Islands, Manassseh Sogavare, says his administration has now immediate intention of switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to Beijing.

Mr Sogavare had signalled in the run up to yesterday's victory over Fred Fono that he would consider ending the long standing relationship with Taiwan.

Mr Fono had strongly advised against such a move.

Mr Sogavare, whose Social Credit party has always officially endorsed the Taiwanese relationship, says it is not an issue for now.

He also says Taiwan has always been very supportive of Solomon Islands.

"They came in to assist us during the ethnic crisis when no one else came, so really the country owes them a lot but that [diplomatic recognition] will be an issue that will be addressed at the appropriate time."

Meanwhile Taiwan's ambassador, Antonio Chen, says Taiwan has long been a worthy friend of Solomon Islands, having committed to assisting the country in good times and bad.

Mr Chen says he finds it difficult to believe some Solomons' politicians would like to repay Taiwan's friendship with threats of severing ties.