26 Nov 2009

Israel won't compete with Iran for Solomons vote, says ambassador

1:45 pm on 26 November 2009

Israel's ambassador to Solomon Islands Michael Ronen says his government will not use money to win back Honiara's support from Iran.

Mr Ronen has cited a recent report by Israel's Foreign Ministry which says Iran is bribing countries who are friendly to Israel to vote against the Jewish state in the United Nations.

The Solomon government set up diplomatic ties with Iran following last year's trip to Tehran by the Solomons' Foreign Minister.

However Iran's recent move to fund travel by Solomons medical students to Cuba for training with a 100,000 US dollar payment was blocked by the ANZ bank which prevents large money transfers by Iran in line with international sanctions.

Local media reports also claim the Solomons government was advised by Australia not to accept the payment.

But despite Israel lodging a protest over ties with Iran to the Solomons government, Honiara has objected to it, saying it employs a friendly policy towards all countries.