Australia will remain a devoted friend to Solomon Islands amid concerns of China’s increasing influence in the Pacific region.
Australian High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, His Excellency Roderick Brazier told a media briefing on board HMAS Toowoomba over the weekend.
Two of Australia’s Navy vessels HMAS Toowoomba and HMAS Adelaide made a two day stop-over in Honiara on their return to Australia after taking part in the Indo-Pacific Endeavour, a significant regional exercise for the Australian Defense Forces.
Asked about Australia’s commitment to Solomon Islands, High Commissioner Roderick said China was a regional power that can have bilateral relations with Pacific island countries.
He said while the bilateral choice remained with Solomon Islands, Australia was committed to a fully fledged relationship with the country.
“What Solomon Islands chooses to do in the future is a choice for the Government of Solomon Islands,” he said.
“Australia is strongly committed to a fully fledged relationship with Solomon Islands and all of the countries of the Pacific and we demonstrate that through defence cooperation like this, a massive aid program one-point-three billion Australia dollars a year and many parts of our Government.”
The Australian High Commissioner added, Australia’s relationship with Solomon Islands also had historical significance.
“Also our people-to-people links are very strong, huge Pacific communities are in Australia, about a 140,000 Pacific islanders living permanently in Australia, a very strong church links between Australia and Solomon Islands,”he said.
“Some of the main denominations of the Solomon Islands actually begun in Australia so these are historical links that are getting better and richer and Australia will always be a devoted friend to the Solomon Islands.”
By: Rickson Bau.