Australian minister visits Solomons to counter China

Jun 17, 2022, 2:16 AM | Updated: 2:52 am

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s new foreign minister visited the Solomon Islands on Friday to assure the South Pacific island nation it does not need a security pact with China.

The Solomons is the fifth Pacific nation that Foreign Minister Penny Wong has visited since her center-left Labor Party came to power in May 21 elections.

She is the first Australian minister to visit the Solomons since its government signed a secretive security pact with China that many fear could lead to a Chinese naval base being established within 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) of Australia’s northeast coast.

Wong described her talks with Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare as “constructive” and “wide ranging.”

“Australia’s view does remain that the Pacific family should be responsible for our security and the Pacific family’s more than capable of providing that security,” Wong told reporters in the capital, Honiara.

“I welcomed Prime Minister Sogavare’s reassurances that there will not be a military base nor persistent military presence here in Solomon Islands, and I welcome his assurance that Australia remains Solomon Islands first security partner of choice and first development partner of choice,” she added.

Sogavare’s office did not immediately respond to the AP’s request for comment.

Australia is the Solomons’ most generous donor of foreign aid and, like China, has a bilateral security pact with the restive nation of 700,000.

Australian police have been maintaining peace in Honiara since riots in November last year.

When the Sino-Solomons pact was signed during the recent Australian election campaign, Wong described it as Australia’s worst foreign policy failure in the Pacific since World War II.

The new Australian government is promising more action on climate change and greater engagement with Australia’s island neighbors.

Wong announced in Honiara that Australia will donate up to 200,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses for children aged 5 to 11. Australia has already provided the Solomons with more than 500,000 doses.

Australia’s former minister for international development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja, flew to Honiara in April to unsuccessfully urge Sogavare to abandon plans to sign the Chinese pact.

Seselja arrived on the same day that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman spoke with the Solomons’ government about Washington’s plan to reopen an embassy in Honiara.

A U.S. delegation to Honiara led by Kurt Campbell, the National Security Council Indo-Pacific coordinator, and Daniel Kritenbrink, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, warned after the pact was signed that the United States would take unspecified action against the Solomons should the agreement with China pose a threat to U.S. or allied interests.

Sogavare accused the U.S. and Australia of threatening and disrespectful behavior.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
4 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
12 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
12 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
19 days ago
A young bison calf stands in a pond with its herd at Bull Hollow, Okla., on Sept. 27, 2022. The cal...
Associated Press

US aims to restore bison herds to Native American lands after near extinction

U.S. officials will work to restore more large bison herds to Native American lands under a Friday order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
19 days ago
(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...
Sponsored Content by OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here's what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.

Sponsored Articles

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Desert Institute for Spine Care photo)...
DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Why DISC is world renowned for back and neck pain treatments

Fifty percent of Americans and 90% of people at least 50 years old have some level of degenerative disc disease.
Australian minister visits Solomons to counter China