The United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, and the British Foreign Secretary, David Cameron, said they had addressed the “vital” United States-United Kingdom air base in the Indian Ocean in Diego Garcia. Blinken stated that the United States acknowledged British sovereignty in that location.
The air base is located on the British Indian Ocean Territory in the Chagos Islands, which, according to a vote on the subject that took place in the United Nations General Assembly in 2019, ought to be restored to Mauritius.
At a press conference that Cameron and Blinken had together, Cameron did not provide a precise reaction when questioned about a claim published in the Daily Telegraph of the United Kingdom earlier this month. The article stated that British Defense Minister Grant Shapps urged Britain to abandon its intentions to hand over the islands.
“On the issue of the vital U.S. air base at Diego Garcia, when foreign secretaries and secretaries of state get together, they often discuss the importance of the assets that we share and use around the world, and that is an important one, and we touched on that this afternoon,” Cameron told reporters.
Blinken stated that the facility was essential to the United States of America in the Indo-Pacific area and the entire world’s security.
“It enables our own support for regional stability; gives us an ability to respond rapidly to crises, and also to counter some of the most challenging threats that we face,” stated the president.
“We …recognize U.K. sovereignty over British Indian Ocean Territory,” Blinken stated, further stating: “But this is a bilateral matter for the U.K. and Mauritius to work out and we support their engagement to resolve the differences.”
In 1965, the Chagos Islands were separated from Mauritius, a colony that had achieved independence three years earlier, to establish the British Indian Ocean Territory. Since 1814, Britain has been in charge of the region.
In 1966, the United States government leased Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago, from the British government. This allowed for the building of an airfield, necessitating the forcible relocation of over 2,000 individuals throughout the construction process.
As a launch pad for long-range bombers, Diego Garcia became an important United States facility during the hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan between the United States and Afghanistan.
Even though it had maintained for years that it was ignorant of such conduct, Britain finally admitted in 2008 that the United States had used Diego Garcia for “rendition” flights to take terrorist suspects to other countries.
In 2016, the United Kingdom renewed the United States’ lease on Diego Garcia. Some British lawmakers now want to maintain control of the islands for extended periods.
The African Union requested that the United Kingdom leave the Chagos Islands after the United Nations deadline for doing so passed and end its “continued colonial administration” there.