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Australia Partly Disagrees on SI-China Security Agreement, Asks SI to consider not signing it, Hon Seselja tells PM Sogavare

Australia’s Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Hon Zed Seselja has asked Solomon Islands to respectfully consider not signing the agreement and to consult the Pacific family in the spirit of regional openness and transparency, consistent with the region’s security frameworks.

Hon Seselja met with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare yesterday and conveyed Australia’s stand on the Security Agreement with China.

Senator Hon. Zed Seselja. Photo Courtesy of Canberra Weekly

 

Speaking to the media after his discussion with Sogavare, Hon Seselja says Australia disagrees partly on the need for the security agreement.

“In our respectful discussion that we had today, I expressed that we have significant concerns about the proposed security agreement with China.

We disagree on the need for it in part because we believe, as we have seen just in recent times, our Pacific Family are able to work together to deal with the security challenges in the region.

Going forward, we would call for ongoing dialogue with the region in a transparent manner. We hope that will be the case.”

Hon Seselja during the discussion welcomed the recent statements from Sogavare that Australia remains Solomon Islands security partner of choice, and his commitment that Solomon Islands will never be used for military bases or other military institutions of foreign powers.

He says Australia looks forward to ongoing engagement with the Solomon Islands Government, and with its Pacific family members, on these very important issues.

Prime Minister of Solomon Islands Manesseh Sogavare and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Zed Seselja Photo Courtesy of Australian High Commission in Honiara

A statement from the Australian High Commission in Honiara says Australia’s commitment to working with Solomon Islands on its security needs is to do so swiftly, transparently and with full respect for its sovereignty.

Australia will continue to support peace, prosperity, stability and our shared democratic values in Solomon Islands and across the region.

It says, for many years, Australia has stood strongly as a partner and a friend of Solomon Islands and worked with its Pacific family to support Solomon Islands, including as part of the Solomons International Assistance Force, and earlier through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands.

The statement adds Australia’s development cooperation program with Solomon Islands remains one of its strongest such partnerships, with funding of over 160 million dollars this financial year.

ENDS///

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